We examined the diameter responses of isolated and pressurized posterior cerebral artery branches to various static and dynamic pressure alterations. These vessels, dissected from an anatomically identifiable location in the rat brain, developed tone when placed in a normal calcium physiological salt solution (1.6 mM Ca-PSS). Following a series of transmural pressure steps (delta p) of 25 or 50 mm Hg completed in 1-2 s and made every 5 min, they attained additional tone resulting in a mean luminal diameter of 139 micron at 100 mm Hg which was 35% less than their relaxed size measured in 1 mM EGTA-PSS. Continuous measurements of wall thickness and lumen diameter were obtained using a video electronic system in 1-2 mm long arterial segments, and autoregulatory gain factors calculated. Myogenic responses were obtained from each of 6 vessels taken from 6 WKY rats. Diameters following the step pressure changes were usually stable within 2-4 min. The data defined a myogenic regulatory pressure range from 49-145 mm Hg. Gain values averaged about 17% of that necessary for these arteries to maintain perfect flow autoregulation. Our results for myogenicity are comparable with the pressure range for blood flow autoregulation reported by others for the rat. We conclude that myogenic mechanisms, at least in this size artery, are partly responsible for flow autoregulation, and that they are supplemented by metabolic mechanisms operative in the intact rat brain.