BACKGOUND: When ischemia reduces blood supply, hypothermia remains the sine qua non for reducing demand. An alternative to whole body deep hypothermia is an isolated cerebral hypothermia via perfusion of cooled blood through one internal carotid artery. The goal of this study was to evaluate the effect of isolated cold hemisphere perfusion during the cerebral ischemia on the formation of brain edema. METHODS: The studies were designed to perfuse a saline solution into both carotid arteries with a different temperature (left 15degreesC, right 38degreesC) in the same animal. Cerebral ischemia was produced by a combination of the both carotid artery saline perfusion and systemic hypotension to a mean arterial blood pressure of 40 mmHg for 10 minutes. Ninety minutes after reperfusion, brain water contents were measured using the kerosene/bromobenzene density gradient and compared with warm saline perfusion and normal control group. RESULTS: Brain water content of cold saline perfusion hemisphere measured at 90 minutes after ischemia showed decreased water content compared to warm saline perfusion hemisphere (p<0.05). CONCLUSIONS: Cerebral cold saline perfusion during the ischemia decreased the formation of brain edema. These results showed hypothemia is one of the most effective ways to protect brain from the ischemia.