Microdialysis is used in vivo for measuring compounds in brain interstitial fluid. The authors describe another application of this technique to the central nervous system, namely microprobe dialysis in the cisterna magna to study the dynamics of ion transport and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) formation in the rat. The choroid plexus is the major source of CSF, which is produced by active transport of Na from blood into the cerebral ventricles. Formation of CSF is directly proportional to the blood-to-CSF transport of Na. By injecting 22Na into the systemic circulation and quantifying its movement into CSF by microdialysis, one can reliably estimate alterations in the rate of CSF formation. The sensitivity of this system was determined by administering acetazolamide, a standard inhibitor of CSF production. Because acetazolamide is known to decrease CSF formation by 40% to 50%, the cisternal microdialysis system in animals treated with this drug should detect a corresponding decrease in the amount of 22Na dialyzed. This hypothesis is supported by the 22Na uptake curves for control versus treated animals: that is, by the acetazolamide-induced average diminution of about 45% in both the rate and extent of tracer accession to dialysate. Bumetanide, a loop diuretic, reduced by 30% the 22Na entry into dialysate. Microprobe dialysis of fluid in the cisterna magna is thus a minimally invasive and economical method for evaluating effects of drugs and hormones on the choroid plexus-CSF system.