Oscillatory blood flow in the microcirculation is generally considered to be the result of cardiopulmonary influences or active vasomotion. In this report, we describe rhythmically oscillating blood flow in the bridging vessels of the mouse colon that appeared to be independent of known biological control mechanisms. Corrosion casting and scanning electron microscopy of the mouse colon demonstrated highly branched bridging vessels that connected the submucosal vessels with the mucosal plexus. Because of similar morphometric characteristics (19 +/- 11 microm vs. 28 +/- 16 microm), bridging arterioles and venules were distinguished by tracking fluorescent nanoparticles through the microcirculation using intravital fluorescence videomicroscopy. In control mice, the blood flow through the bridging vessels was typically continuous and unidirectional. In contrast, two models of chemically induced inflammation (trinitrobenzenesulfonic acid and dextran sodium sulfate) were associated with a twofold reduction in flow velocity and the prominence of rhythmically oscillating blood flow. The blood oscillation was characterized by tracking the bidirectional displacement of fluorescent nanoparticles. Space-time plots and particle tracking of the oscillating segments demonstrated an oscillation frequency between 0.2 and 5.1 cycles per second. Discrete Fourier transforms demonstrated a power spectrum composed of several base frequencies. These observations suggest that inflammation-inducible changes in blood flow patterns in the murine colon resulted in both reduced blood flow velocity and rhythmic oscillations within the bridging vessels of the mouse colon.