Summary. The tissue accumulation of 125I-labelled human serum albumin 30 min after intravenous injection was used as an index of uterine vascular permeability. In ovariectomized mice, all sham and experimental instillation procedures produced a 6–10-fold increase in vascular permeability. Some effects were also manifest in the contralateral, control horn. In ovariectomized rats, instillation of saline and arachis oil increased vascular permeability 3–7-fold. After 3 or more days of progesterone treatment following oestradiol priming, fluorocarbon and arachis oil instillation produced marked vascular responses, but these were not restricted to the transient period in which the uterus would respond with decidualization. An IUD prevented the response to arachis oil instillation. These results indicate that the uterus is very sensitive to any manipulation and are consistent with decidualization representing a specialization of a normal uterine inflammatory response.