BACKGROUND AND OBJECTIVES: Rapamycin has been shown to inhibit the vascular smooth muscle cell migration and proliferation that contributes to neointimal formation. We investigated whether the perivascular delivery of rapamycin in Pluronic gel could inhibit neointimal hyperplasia in a rat carotid artery model, and we tested the usefulness of carotid arteriography. MATERIALS AND METHODS: To assess the kinetics of rapamycin's release from Pluronic gel, a [3H] thymidine incorporation assay was performed with using the media exposed to rapamycin in Pluronic gel for 10, 20, 60 and 120 min. We applied 100 microgram of rapamycin in Pluronic gel to the perivascular space of the carotid artery after the balloon injury (n=9), whereas only gel was applied in a control group (n=9). We performed the carotid arteriography and the morphometric analysis 14 days after injury. RESULTS: The [3H] thymidine incorporation assay showed a reduction of uptake in a time-dependent manner (86%, 48%, 45% and 40% of the control, respectively, at 10, 20, 60 and 120 minutes). The inhibiting effect of rapamycin on neointimal hyperplasia was identified on the carotid arteriography (mean luminal diameter; 0.75+/-0.11 vs. 0.60+/-0.12 arbitrary units, respectively, p< 0.05) and on the morphometric analysis (neointima area: 0.09+/-0.03 vs. 0.17+/-0.06 mm(2), respectively, p< 0.05). CONCLUSION: This study demonstrated that perivascular delivery of rapamycin in Pluronic gel inhibits neointimal hyperplasia in a rat carotid injury model. This animal model combined with arteriography can be used for developing new drugs to treat restenosis. In addition, this technique might be useful for vascular surgery such as coronary artery bypass grafting, arteriovenous fistula formation and peripheral vascular bypass graft insertion.