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Propranolol has been found to have a protective effect in experimental myocardial ischemia. Protection of ischemic kidneys was subsequently demonstrated following treatment with propranolol and its weaker beta blocking isomer, d-propranolol. The objective of the present investigation was to study the effects of propranolol (i.e., racemic d,1 mixture) and d-propranolol upon regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) and early ischemic changes following experimental middle cerebral artery (MCA) occlusion. Thirty adult cats, lightly anesthetized with ketamine hydrochloride, underwent 3 hours or right MCA occlusion. Ten cats were untreated. Ten cats were given a continuous infusion of propranolol (1 mg/kg/hr) for 4 hours beginning 1 hour before MCA occlusion and a 4 mg/kg bolus immediately before occlusion. Ten cats were given a continuous infusion of d-propranolol (0.5 mg/kg/hr) for 4 hours beginning 1 hour before MCA occlusion and a 2 mg/kg bolus immediately before occlusion. The therapeutic agents were injected directly into the right carotid artery. The rCBF in the right Sylvian region was not significantly different in the 3 groups. EEG changes also were similar. Carbon filling defects were found to be smallest in the d-propranolol-treated group. Light microscopic studies demonstrated a reduction in infarct size in the propranolol and d-propranolol groups. The findings of the investigation indicated that propranolol and d-propranolol do not have a deleterious effect on rCBF after MCA occlusion and suggested that these agents have a protective effect upon ischemic cerebral tissue.