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A new rat model for multifocal cerebral thrombosis has recently been reported (Tani et al., 1994; 1995). Ultrastructural changes in the cerebral neocortex in the acute phase were investigated in order to characterize the early pathological events in this model. A bolus injection of alkaline phenytoin solution (pH 10.8) into one internal carotid artery in the rat caused severe endothelial injury accompanied by thrombosis in the cerebral vasculature within 5 minutes, and severe oedema of the ipsilateral hemisphere within an hour. Cerebral water content was measured by the simple dry-wet method, and cerebral surface area and the surface area and volume of the ischaemic zone were measured using computer-aided image analysis. Good correlations were demonstrated between cerebral water content and cerebral surface area, and between the surface area and volume of the ischaemic zone. We report here that quantitative evaluation of acute cerebral damage induced by phenytoin solution is possible with high reliability using simple image analysis.