Effects of hypothyroidism on vascular 125I-albumin permeation and on blood flow were assessed in multiple tissues of male Sprague-Dawley rats rendered hypothyroid by dietary supplementation with 0.5% (wt/wt) 2-thiouracil or by thyroidectomy. In both thiouracil-treated and thyroidectomized rats, body weights, kidney weight, arterial blood pressure, and pulse rate were decreased significantly v age-matched controls. After 10 to 12 weeks of thiouracil treatment, 125I-albumin permeation was increased significantly in the kidney, aorta, eye (anterior uvea, choroid, retina), skin, and new granulation tissue, remained unchanged in brain, sciatic nerve, and heart, and was decreased in forelimb skeletal muscle. A similar pattern was observed in thyroidectomized rats, except that increases in 125I-albumin permeation for all tissues were smaller than those observed in thiouracil-treated rats, and 125I-albumin permeation in retina did not differ from controls. In both thiouracil-treated and thyroidectomized rats, changes in blood flow (assessed with 15-microns, 85Sr-labeled microspheres) relative to the decrease in arterial blood pressure were indicative of a decrease in regional vascular resistance except in the choroid and in the kidney, in which vascular resistance was increased significantly. Glomerular filtration rate was decreased, but filtration fraction and urinary excretion of albumin remained unchanged by thiouracil treatment and thyroidectomy. These results indicate that vascular hemodynamics and endothelial cell barrier functional integrity are modulated in many different tissues by the thyroid. In view of the correspondence of hypothyroid- and diabetes-induced vascular permeability changes, these results raise the possibility that altered thyroid function in diabetes may play a role in the pathogenesis of diabetic vascular disease.