It is known that polycythemia decreases the fluidity of the blood and impairs tissue perfusion due to red-cell sludging in the microcirculation. In this study, the effect of polycythemic hyperviscosity (PH) on bowel necrosis was evaluated in an experimental model of intestinal ischemia. Twenty-eight Wistar albino rats (90-170 g) were divided into two groups: group 1 was transfused to create hyperviscosity and then intestinal ischemia was produced (n = 16); in group 2 ischemia was produced without transfusion (n = 12). Intestinal ischemia was produced by clamping the superior mesenteric artery and the collateral arcades of the right colic artery for 30 min. Gross and histopathologic evaluations were performed by either immediate necropsy or relaparotomy 24 h later. Microscopic findings were graded from 0 to 3 according to the degree of ischemic changes. In group 1, 2 animals (12.5%) died before 24 h postoperatively; coagulation necrosis with grade 2 or 3 ischemic changes was observed in 10 animals (62.5%). In group 2 only a few hypertrophied Peyer's patches and capillary dilation were found, and all histopathologic changes were between grades 0 and 1. The difference between the histopathologic gradings of the two groups was significant (P <0.001). It appears that in addition to reduced splanchnic blood flow, a secondary effect of PH is needed to induce ischemic coagulation necrosis, PH of the newborn must be considered a risk factor for necrotizing enterocolitis, so-called spontaneous intestinal perforations, and even intestinal atresia.