A computerized pO2 measurement system with a novel electrode motion pattern (Sigma-pO2-histography) was evaluated in vitro and in vivo. The system was found to be reliable in 0.9% saline and 10% hydroxyethylene starch solution and in fresh donor blood. Marked deviations were found in lipid and hemoglobin solutions and in fluorocarbon emulsions. Histograms obtained in rat liver, mouse muscle, and subcutis were similar to previously reported distributions. Direct comparison between Sigma-Eppendorf and self-constructed Whalen-type electrodes in hypoxic tumors gave similar results. A large series of measurements indicated that hypoxic and anoxic tissue areas were frequently found both in isografted rodent and in xenografted human tumors. The extent of oxygen deprivation depended on the cell line studied, tumor size, implantation site, the vascularity, and the actual tissue perfusion. Pentobarbital anesthesia redistributed the tumor oxygenation without affecting the median pO2 value. Tumors growing in a pre-irradiated bed were less oxygenated than those at untreated sites. Hyperthermia at therapeutically relevant temperatures reduced pO2 levels in adequately oxygenated tumors whereas little change was detected in poorly oxygenated tumors. First measurements in tumors in patients revealed marked inter- and intratumor heterogeneity. It is concluded that this novel technique is suitable for routine measurements of tissue oxygenation of solid tumors in situ.