'Optimized' management (OM) was provided to chloralose-anesthetized rats for 12 h by combining continuous infusion (7 ml.kg-1). mechanical ventilation and strict control of acid-base equilibrium (n = 7). The chloralose-anesthetized rats managed conventionally (conventional management: CM, n = 9) received neither volume infusion, nor mechanical ventilation, nor correction of acid-base disturbances. All the OM rats completed the study while 6 out of 9 CM rats died before the end of the study period. Mean arterial pressure (MAP) remained at 100 mmHg for 12 h in the OM group. MAP stayed close to 70 mmHg in the CM group for 6 h and declined to very low levels thereafter (mean +/- S.E.M.: 46.0 +/- 3.9 mmHg at 12 h, P less than 10(-4) when compared to the other group). Central venous pressure and cardiac output remained close to baseline values for 12 h in the OM group. Acid-base equilibrium was preserved in the OM group in contrast to a severe metabolic acidosis in the CM group (pH = 7.14 +/- 0.03 at 12 h; P less than 10(-4). Such as 'optimized' management involving mechanical ventilation with oxygen, continuous infusion and acid-base monitoring may be of value to maintain circulatory stability in anesthetized rodent preparations during long periods of time, as in neurophysiological experiments.