Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) remains a major problem of preterm neonates, and ethamsylate, an inhibitor of specific prostaglandin-synthetic enzymes has been demonstrated to prevent IVH in these patients. We have examined the effects of ethamsylate on newborn beagle pups who were, by randomized computerized design, assigned to four cells consisting of (a) either ethamsylate or saline pretreatment and (b) either insulted or not insulted with hemorrhagic hypovolemia/volume re-expansion. Prostaglandin levels were obtained prior to and thirty minutes following administration of the solutions and 14C iodoantipyrine autoradiography was performed for cerebral blood flow (CBF) determinations. Ethamsylate produced a significant decrease in the incidence of IVH in this model (p less than 0.05). Following drug administration, ethamsylate-pretreated pups had significant declines in thromboxane B2 and 6-keto PGF1 alpha levels, the major breakdown products of thromboxane A2 and prostacyclin. Although ethamsylate significantly lowered baseline CBF in all brain regions examined in insulted and non-insulted pups (p less than 0.05), in the drug-treated group it did not prevent the changes seen in CBF to the germinal matrix region which were detected in the saline-pretreated pups. Nor did it significantly blunt the blood pressure changes in response to the hemorrhagic hypovolemia/volume re-expansion insult found in the latter group of animals. In addition, only ethamsylate pretreated pups had marked hypotensive responses to the reperfusion phase of the insult. Although the diminution of baseline CBF may contribute to the prevention of neonatal IVH which this drug has been demonstrated to exhibit, ethamsylate may also act as a capillary stabilizing agent.