BACKGROUND: At present, it is not exactly clear which vein is allocated for drainage of blood to a particular area of the human brain. Knowledge of these draining areas is very important for the understanding of occlusive venous diseases. A method was developed that offers the possibility to investigate the draining area of a cerebral vein, with the help of an animal model. METHODS: Brains of sacrificed rabbits are removed and are anterogradely perfused with a coloring matter. Then a vein chosen at random is occluded and anterograde perfusion is restarted using another coloring substance. The working hypothesis is that the part of the brain that is solely dependent for its drainage of blood upon the occluded vein (the draining area of the vein) will show a deficit in staining after the second perfusion. RESULTS: Using the above-mentioned technique, no filling defect was seen if a vein was occluded near its entrance into the sinus (N = 8) or at a single point over the cortex (N = 7). If a longer trajectory (10-14 mm.) was obstructed, a clear staining defect was seen in 13 out of 16 hemispheres; the three remaining cases seemed to be technical failures. CONCLUSION: A new method is described to investigate the draining area of a cerebral vein. Although the validity of the method is proven in an animal model, it seems a good technique for investigation of human brains postmortem. Application of this technique will contribute to the understanding of the pathophysiology of venous diseases and also elucidate the role of the venous anastomotic pathways.