Experiments were carried out to evaluate the role of convection in the removal of large molecules from brain interstitial fluid. Radiolabeled test compounds were injected into the caudate nucleus of anesthetized rats through a guide cannula implanted 1 wk previously and the concentrations of isotope in brain and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) determined at various times after injection. Control studies with 22Na indicate that the permeability of the blood-brain barrier is normal in tissue surrounding the intracerebral injection cannula. For 69,000 dalton serum albumin, 4,000 dalton polyethylene glycol, and 900 dalton polyethylene glycol, clearance from brain approximates a single exponential decay with half times of disappearance of 12.2, 12.6, and 14.4 h, respectively. Similarly in efflux rate, despite a fivefold difference in diffusion coefficient, is consistent with convective losses from brain, and the maximal rate of interstitial fluid removal estimated on the basis of these data is 0.11 microliter.g brain-1.min-1. Only 10-20% of total efflux is into bulk CSF withdrawn from the cisterna magna.