The blood oxygenation level-dependent (BOLD) contrast mechanism can be modeled as a complex interplay between CBF, cerebral blood volume (CBV), and CMRO2. Positive BOLD signal changes are presumably caused by CBF changes in excess of increases in CMRO2. Because this uncoupling between CBF and CMRO2 may not always be present, the magnitude of BOLD changes may not be a good index of CBF changes. In this study, the relation between BOLD and CBF was investigated further. Continuous arterial spin labeling was combined with a single-shot, multislice echo-planar imaging to enable simultaneous measurements of BOLD and CBF changes in a well-established model of functional brain activation, the electrical forepaw stimulation of alpha-chloralose-anesthetized rats. The paradigm consisted of two 18- to 30-second stimulation periods separated by a 1-minute resting interval. Stimulation parameters were optimized by laser Doppler flowmetry. For the same cross-correlation threshold, the BOLD and CBF active maps were centered within the size of one pixel (470 microm). However, the BOLD map was significantly larger than the CBF map. Measurements taken from 15 rats at 9.4 T using a 10-millisecond echo-time showed 3.7 +/- 1.7% BOLD and 125.67 +/- 81.7% CBF increases in the contralateral somatosensory cortex during the first stimulation, and 2.6 +/- 1.2% BOLD and 79.3 +/- 43.6% CBF increases during the second stimulation. The correlation coefficient between BOLD and CBF changes was 0.89. The overall temporal correlation coefficient between BOLD and CBF time-courses was 0.97. These results show that under the experimental conditions of the current study, the BOLD signal changes follow the changes in CBF.