The tibial nutrient artery supplies 62% of cortical blood flow in the diaphysis and normal blood flow is centrifugal (Willans 1987). Intramedullary reaming destroys the nutrient artery and injures the endosteal surface of the cortex. Trueta (1974) suggested that the direction of blood flow can reverse from centrifugal to centripetal after loss of the endosteal supply. We examined this hypothesis by measuring cortical and periosteal blood flow after intramedullary reaming of the tibia in eight sheep, using 57Co radiolabelled microspheres. The unreamed contralateral tibiae served as a control group. Thirty minutes after reaming there was no significant change in cortical blood flow, but a sixfold increase in the periosteal flow. Our study confirms Trueta's hypothesis; after trauma or in other pathological states, flow can become centripetal.