Several studies have demonstrated that untreated tumors may show significant fluctuations in tissue oxygen tension (pO(2)). Radiation treatment may induce changes in the tumor microenvironment that alter the pO(2) fluctuation pattern. The purpose of the present study was to investigate whether pO(2) fluctuations may also occur in irradiated tumors. A-07 human melanoma xenografts were irradiated with single doses of 0, 5 or 10 Gy. Fluctuations in pO(2) were recorded with OxyLite probes prior to irradiation and 24 and 72 h after the radiation exposure. Radiation-induced changes in the tumor microenvironment (i.e. blood perfusion and extracellular volume fraction) were assessed by dynamic contrast-enhanced magnetic resonance imaging. Seventy-two hours after 10 Gy, tumor blood perfusion had decreased to approximately 40% of that prior to irradiation, whereas the extracellular volume fraction had increased by approximately 25%. Fluctuations in pO(2) were seen in most tumors, irrespective of radiation dose and time after irradiation. The mean pO(2), the number of fluctuations around the mean pO(2), the number of fluctuations around threshold pO(2) values of 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 10 mmHg, and the amplitude of the fluctuations were determined for each pO(2) trace. No significant differences were detected between irradiated and unirradiated tumors. The results showed that pO(2) fluctuations may occur in irradiated tumors and that the pO(2) fluctuation pattern in A-07 tumors exposed to 5 or 10 Gy is similar to that in untreated tumors. Consequently, these doses did not induce changes in the tumor microenvironment that were sufficient to cause detectable alterations in the pO(2) fluctuation pattern.