A gravimetric method was evaluated as a simple, sensitive, reproducible, low-cost alternative to quantify the extent of brain infarct after occlusion of the medial cerebral artery in rats. In ether-anesthetized rats, the left medial cerebral artery was occluded for 1, 1.5 or 2 h by inserting a 4-0 nylon monofilament suture into the internal carotid artery. Twenty-four hours later, the brains were processed for histochemical triphenyltetrazolium chloride (TTC) staining and quantitation of the schemic infarct. In each TTC-stained brain section, the ischemic tissue was dissected with a scalpel and fixed in 10% formalin at 0ºC until its total mass could be estimated. The mass (mg) of the ischemic tissue was weighed on an analytical balance and compared to its volume (mm³), estimated either by plethysmometry using platinum electrodes or by computer-assisted image analysis. Infarct size as measured by the weighing method (mg), and reported as a percent (%) of the affected (left) hemisphere, correlated closely with volume (mm³, also reported as %) estimated by computerized image analysis (r = 0.88; P < 0.001; N = 10) or by plethysmography (r = 0.97-0.98; P < 0.0001; N = 41). This degree of correlation was maintained between different experimenters. The method was also sensitive for detecting the effect of different ischemia durations on infarct size (P < 0.005; N = 23), and the effect of drug treatments in reducing the extent of brain damage (P < 0.005; N = 24). The data suggest that, in addition to being simple and low cost, the weighing method is a reliable alternative for quantifying brain infarct in animal models of stroke.