The purpose of the present study was to determine whether early removal of an experimental intracerebral mass altered cerebral blood flow, brain water content, neuropathological findings, or neurological function 24 hours later. In three experimental series, a 50-microliter balloon was inflated within the right caudate nucleus in rats. At 24 hours after inflation, we studied cerebral blood flow by quantitative autoradiography, brain specific gravity, and qualitative histopathology by light microscopy. The animals were also assessed using a simple neurological deficit scale. In each series, half of the animals had the balloon inflated for 10 minutes (Group 1), and half had the balloon inflated permanently (Group 2). After transient inflation, there were surprisingly small differences in the blood flow between the two cerebral hemispheres at 24 hours. By contrast, in animals with permanent inflation, several indices of blood flow were significantly worse in the hemisphere ipsilateral to the balloon: the mean and median blood flow levels in the caudate nucleus; the mean blood flow in the cerebral cortex; and the area of cortex with ischemic levels of blood flow. The specific gravity was reduced in areas surrounding the site of balloon insertion after either transient or permanent inflation, and there was evidence of ischemic cell damage in all animals studied. These changes were more severe after permanent inflation, but the differences were not significant. Neurological outcome was significantly better after transient as compared with permanent inflation. The present findings contradict previous results and suggest that early removal of an intracerebral mass may have subsequent benefits.