Intracarotid artery infusions in animals are commonly performed in studies of the blood-brain barrier and in chemotherapy trials. Implicit in the analysis of these experiments is that the infusate will be distributed to the territory of the internal carotid artery in a manner that is proportional to blood flow. Fifteen Sprague-Dawley rats were studied to determine if poor infusate mixing with blood due to intravascular streaming occurred during intracarotid artery drug infusions and if it could be eliminated with fast retrograde infusion. In three experimental groups, a radiolabeled flow tracer--14C-iodoantipyrine (IAP)--was infused retrograde through the external carotid artery into the common carotid artery at slow, medium, and fast rates (0.45, 1.5, and 5.0 ml/min). In a control group, IAP was injected intravenously (i.v.). Local isotope concentrations in the brain were determined by quantitative autoradiography, and the variability of isotope delivery was assessed in the frontoparietal cortex, temporal cortex, and caudate putamen of all animals. Streaming phenomena were manifest in all selected anatomic areas after the slow and medium rates of intraarterial infusion. After fast intracarotid infusion or i.v. injection, there was uniform distribution of isotope in the same brain regions.