Experiments were conducted to determine the therapeutic value of subarachnoid perfusion of the traumatized dog spinal cord with the fluorocarbon, Fluosol-DA (20%). Control dogs without lesions, but which had durotomy, subarachnoid catheter placement, and saline irrigation for 4 hours, did not have any residual neurological deficit. A series of 41 dogs underwent an acute spinal cord compression using an epidural balloon inflated to a pressure of 160 mm Hg and maintained for 1 hour. Treatment included durotomy only (11 dogs), durotomy with saline perfusion at room temperature (15 dogs), and durotomy with oxygenated Fluosol-DA perfusion at room temperature (15 dogs). The dogs underwent daily grading of neurological status for a 60-day period. Dogs undergoing perfusion of the spinal cord with either saline or oxygenated Fluosol-DA had significantly improved motor recovery (p less than 0.004) compared with dogs undergoing durotomy only. Perfusion with oxygenated Fluosol-DA resulted in significantly better motor recovery (p less than 0.05) than did perfusion with normal saline. Microscopic examination of the traumatized spinal cords failed to reveal a substantial difference between the three groups. However, dogs with better functional results tended to have less destruction of the white matter. Hemorrhagic necrosis of the central gray matter was consistently observed in all traumatized spinal cords.