Blood-to-brain and blood-to-tumor transport rate constants for Rb (K1) and apparent tissue blood volume (Vb) were estimated in 8 patients with primary or metastatic brain tumors before and approximately 6 hours after a 100-mg intravenous bolus injection of dexamethasone using 82Rb and positron emission tomography. Eight additional patients were studied to evaluate test-retest variability and repositioning errors. Six hours following dexamethasone administration tumor K1 (but not Vb) was significantly reduced compared with contralateral control brain regions (p less than 0.03). These data are consistent with our previously published 24-hour-postdexamethasone data and suggest that comparable effects of corticosteroids on brain/tumor capillaries may be observed at 5 to 6 and 24 hours. The time course of dexamethasone-induced alterations in brain/tumor capillary permeability supports the view that these alterations may be responsible for at least some of the antiedema effects of corticosteroids.