Late pathophysiological events after the production and subsequent removal of an intracerebral mass were investigated using a mechanical microballoon model to simulate intracerebral hemorrhage. Immediately following balloon inflation in the caudate nucleus of rats, there was a significant increase in intracranial pressure to 14 +/- 1 mm Hg (mean +/- standard error of the mean), accompanied by a reduction in cerebral blood flow (CBF) in the ipsilateral frontal cortex, as measured by the hydrogen-clearance technique. Carbon-14-iodoantipyrine autoradiography revealed a significant reduction in the CBF of the ipsilateral caudate nucleus 4 hours after balloon inflation: 31% of the caudate nucleus had a CBF of less than 20 ml X 100 gm-1 X min-1 compared to only 1% in the sham-treated control group (balloon insertion without inflation). The rats with an intracerebral mass exhibited a significant increase in the volume of ischemic damage in the ipsilateral caudate nucleus (17.1% of total volume) compared to only 1.7% in the sham-treated group; however, there was no evidence of cerebral edema. Ischemic damage and reduced CBF persisted for 4 hours after transient inflation of a microballoon in the caudate nucleus. This suggests that ischemic damage occurs at the time of formation of the lesion and is not prevented by its early removal.