We measured rat brain cortex PO2 (PtO2) with gold microelectrodes (tip diameter 5–10 μm) for up to 2 hours after 16 min of transient global brain ischemia with and without thiopental 90 mg/kg infused iv over 60 min beginning at 5 min postischemia. Seventeen rats were immobilized and mechanically ventilated on 1% halothane in oxygen with continuous monitoring of PtO2, ECG, end-expiratory CO2, rectal temperature, and arterial blood pressure. Global ischemia was induced by trimethaphan hypotension to an MAP of about 50 torr and a neck tourniquet inflated to 1500 torr. Postischemia, nine control rats (11 PtO2 measurements) were untreated and eight rats (8 PtO2 measurements) received thiopental 90 mg/kg. Preischcmia, PtO2 values in both groups ranged from < 5–70 torr with values of greatest frequency between 10 and 15 torr. Postischemia, PtO2 in control rats peaked at 45 ± 8 (SEM) torr at 20 min. In thiopental treated rats, peak PtO2 was 24 ± 6 torr at 10 min postischemia. Relative frequency histograms of PtO2 revealed that PtO2 in thiopental treated rats was lower (p < 0.05) between 15 and 30 min postischemia. The magnitude of the decrease in PtO2 between 105 and 120 min postischemia appeared to correlate directly with the absolute preischemic value (i.e., the higher the preischemic PtO2, the greater the decrease in PtO2 postischemia). These results suggest that thiopental administered in large doses in early postischemia does not improve brain oxygenation secondary to a reduction in brain oxygen consumption. The relevance of the correlation between the magnitude of the fall in PtO2 postischemia and the magnitude of the preischemic value is discussed.