Fluid homeostasis within muscle compartments is maintained by four pressures: capillary blood pressure, capillary blood oncotic pressure, tissue-fluid pressure, and tissue fluid oncotic pressure. As determined in the canine anterolateral compartment, capillary blood pressure is 25 +/- 3 millimeters of mercury; capillary blood oncotic pressure, 26 +/- 3 millimeters of mercury, tissue-pbessure, -2 +/- 2 millimeters of mercury; and tissue-fluid oncotic pressure, 11 +/- 1 millimeters of mercury. The wick technique allows direct measurement of tissue-fluid pressure in skeletal muscle and, with minor modifications, is adapted to collect microsamples of interstitial fluid for determinations of tissue-fluid oncotic pressure. The wick technique detects very slight fluctuations in intracompartmental pressure such as light finger compression, injection of small volumes of fluid, and even pulsation due to adjacent arterial pressure. Adjacent muscle compartments may contain different tissue-fluid pressure due to impermeable osseofascial barriers. Our results obtained in canine muscle compartments pressurized by infusion of autologous plasma suggest that risks of muscle damage are significant at intracompartmental pressures greater than thirty millimeters of mercury.