The effects of normovolemic hemodilution on skin flap survival are studied in a recently developed skin-flap model (homozygous hairless mouse ear) in which nutritional capillary flow is monitored directly by means of intravital microscopy from the time of flap creation throughout the establishment of necrosis. Two diluting agents (dextran 60 and hydroxyethyl starch 200) are utilized. Our quantitative findings demonstrate that the amount of nonperfused tissue following flap creation in both the dextran (n = 23) and starch (n = 13) groups was significantly decreased as compared with controls (n = 19). Our qualitative observations suggest that improved hemorrheologic properties at the microcircula-tory level are responsible for the observed decreased necrosis. Various mechanisms by which hemodilution may act to prevent necrosis are discussed.