We have developed a method for producing chronic regional nerve ischemia in rats by creating proximal limb arteriovenous shunts. This procedure results in a 50 to 75% reduction in endoneurial blood flow within the distal sciatic nerve as measured by the iodoantipyrine method. Nerve conduction velocities in sciatic nerves ipsilateral to the shunt fell by 25 to 30% within 2 weeks after creation of the shunt and did not recover for up to 10 months after the procedure. Morphological studies of the ischemic nerves showed structural abnormalities at nodes of Ranvier and mild axonal atrophy. Neither segmental demyelination nor axonal degeneration were evident. These results indicate that reduced endoneurial blood flow, insufficient to cause infarction, may result in measurable functional and morphological abnormalities in peripheral nerves.