Cortical spreading depression (CSD) is a pronounced depolarization of neurons and glia that spreads slowly across the cortex followed by a period of depressed electrophysiological activity. The vascular changes associated with CSD are a large transient increase in blood flow followed by a prolonged decrease lasting greater than I h. Currently, the profile of functional vascular activity during this hypovolemic period has not been well characterized. Perfusion-based imaging techniques such as functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) assume a tight coupling between changes in neuronal and vascular activity. Under normal conditions, these variables are well correlated. Characterizing the effect of CSD on this relationship is an important step to understand the impact acute pathophysiological events may have on neurovascular coupling. We examine the effect of CSD on functional changes in cerebral blood volume (CBV) evoked by cortical electrophysiological activity for I h following CSD induction. CBV signal amplitude, duration, and time to peak show little recovery at 60 min post-induction. Analysis of spontaneous vasomotor activity suggests a decrease in vascular reactivity may play a significant role in the disruption of normal functional CBV responses. Electrophysiological activity is also attenuated but to a lesser degree. CBV and evoked potentials are not well correlated following CSD, suggesting a breakdown of the neurovascular coupling relationship. (c) 2005 Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers.