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Abstract En face autoradiography of the endothelium was used to quantify the distribution, area, and permeability of sites with enhanced permeability to 25 I-low-density lipoprotein (125 I-LDL) around the intercostal and celiac arteries and at the iliac bifurcation of normal rabbit aortas. The density of such sites was highest in the upper thoracic aorta and around the celiac and superior mesenteric branches and was lowest in the lower abdominal aorta. Permeable sites occurred more frequently distal to the intercostal branch orifices and both lateral and distal to the orifice at the celiac branch. At the intercostal branch orifices, these sites were larger, with a lower permeability and higher frequency than those away from the branch. At the celiac flow divider, sites of elevated autoradiographic grain density were more permeable and larger than at other locations in the abdominal aorta. Mean regional permeabilities were obtained by weighted area averages of lowand high-permeability sites. Mean regional permeabilities around the intercostal branches were 1.5 times higher than values away from the intercostal branches. Within 0.25 and 1 mm away from the celiac flow divider, mean regional permeability was 3.1 and 1.3 times higher, respectively, than those away from the flow divider. Few sites of elevated permeability were found distal to the aortoiliac bifurcation, and the permeabilities at the medial and lateral walls of the iliac arteries were not different. Mitotic cells were associated with 13 ±8% of all sites with elevated permeability to 125 I-LDL. The frequency of mitotic endothelial cells was not increased at branch sites, suggesting that mechanisms other than cell replication were responsible for increased LDL permeability in the rabbit. These results suggest that the permeability and frequency of occurrence of sites with elevated permeability around the celiac and intercostal branches may influence the distribution and severity of early lesions in rabbits fed a hypercholesterolemic diet.