Tissue injury at reperfusion has been reported after partial ischemia. However, previous attempts to demonstrate a component of injury caused by reperfusion after total ischemia have failed. This study was performed to evaluate the hypothesis that in such situations the extent of the tissue injury caused by ischemia itself prevented detection of a reperfusion component. Rats were subjected to near-total intestinal ischemia by means of a hydrostatic pressure clamp that produced preferential venous occlusion (strangulation) for periods from 1 to 90 minutes. Tissue injury was evaluated microscopically by a blinded examiner. Ischemic periods of 20 minutes or less did not induce detectable tissue injury. Longer durations of ischemia caused villous injury: the longer the period of ischemia, the more extensive the tissue injury. However, there was no exacerbation of injury seen after reperfusion, regardless of the duration of ischemia. In a separate series of rats, total arterial occlusion was employed without concomitant venous congestion. Such isolation arterial occlusion of 40 to 60 minutes' duration was followed by a statistically significant exacerbation of tissue injury at reperfusion. Thus total intestinal ischemia may be followed by reperfusion injury if there is no concomitant congestion and if ischemic injury is not too extensive.