An immunochemical method is described for quantitative assessment of serum proteins and hemoglobin content in brain tissue homogenates. Using a combination of affinity chromatography and radioimmunoassay, the sensitivity of the method is 50 ng hemoglobin and 100 ng serum protein per assay, respectively. The method was used to measure cerebral hematocrit, blood volume and serum protein extravasation in rat brain at various times following cold injury. In control rats cerebral blood volume was 6.88 +- 0.15 ml/100 g and cerebral hematocrit 26.4 +- 0.86% (means +- S.E.). Following cold injury blood volume did not significantly change, but there was a gradual increase of extravasated serum proteins, reaching a maximum of 21.54 +- 2.76 mg/g d.w. after 8 hours. Thereafter protein content gradually declined, but even after 64 h it was distinctly increased. Protein extravasation was partly dissociated from the increase of brain water and sodium which reached a maximum already after 2 h and which normalized within 32 and 64 h, respectively. It is concluded that edema fluid associated with cold injury is not simply an ultrafiltrate of blood serum but consists of cytotoxic and vasogenic components which follow a different time course both during formation and resolution of edema.