The effect of decreased ocular mean perfusion pressure (PPm), defined as mean arterial blood pressure minus intraocular pressure (IOP), on optic nerve head blood flow (Fonh) and on the response of this flow (RFonh) to diffuse luminance flicker was investigated in 19 anesthetized cats using laser Doppler flowmetry. PPm was decreased by increasing the IOP. The flicker stimulus consisted of 20-msec flashes delivered at 10 Hz for 30-60 sec. It illuminated a 30 degrees diameter area of the fundus, centered at the optic disk. Decreasing PPm by 10-35% from its resting value resulted in a 23% increase in RFonh (supranormal RFonh). With further decreases in PPm, RFonh decreased, reaching zero at a PPm below 20 mmHg. Fonh remained constant until PPm was < 40 mmHg and then decreased thereafter. When PPm was brought back to resting value after having been decreased for approximately 45 min, Fonh first increased by approximately 380% and then returned to its value at rest within approximately 4.5 min. At low PPm, hyperoxia decreased Fonh by 23% and restored the attenuated RFonh back to the value at resting PPm and hypoxia did not increase Fonh, as it did at normal PPm. This study confirms that the optic nerve head circulation is autoregulated over a wide range of PPm and reveals, for the first time, a hyperemic response to a prolonged decrease in PPm. It suggests that hypoxia plays a role in abolishing RFonh at low PPm and that the supranormal RFonh at moderately decreased PPm is due to an increase in the flicker-induced ganglion cell activity.