Physiological characteristics of dorsal root ganglia microvessels have not been reported in detail. In this study we examined local blood flow and oxygen tension in the L4 dorsal root ganglion (DRG) of the rat. Under normal physiological conditions, local DRG blood flow measured 36.1 +/- 2.7 ml/100 g/min, over twice that within the endoneurium of the sciatic nerve. DRG blood flow was better maintained during hypotension than endoneurial blood flow suggesting partial autoregulation. Unlike endoneurium, there was relative constancy of flow between mean arterial pressures of 60 and 120 mm Hg. Hypercarbia with acidosis, and hypocarbia with alkalosis did not influence blood flow. The histogram of oxygen tensions within the dorsal root ganglion resembled that in brain but included more values at lower tensions than observed in published endoneurial histograms. Theses findings suggest that the DRG differ from endoneurium in ways that reflect the higher metabolic requirements of neural soma.