Background: Clinical and histopathologic observations suggest a role for ischemia in the pathogenesis of the acute retinal necrosis (ARN) syndrome. Disruption of blood flow appears to occur at some level in the retina or choroid and may account for some of the major features of the syndrome. Methods: To investigate these potential circulatory changes, color Doppler imaging (CDI) was used to quantitate blood flow velocities and vascular resistance in the central retinal, ophthalmic, and short posterior ciliary arteries in ten consecutive patients with unilateral ARN syndrome. Data were analyzed with a paired Student's t test. The unaffected fellow eyes served as controls. Results: Blood flow velocities within the central retinal artery were significantly reduced in eyes with ARN syndrome compared with control eyes. In affected eyes, there was a mean reduction of 55%, 60%, and 72% in peak systolic, average, and enddiastolic velocities, respectively (P < 0.01). The calculated vascular resistance of the central retinal artery showed an upward trend, but the data fell short of statistical significance. Blood flow velocities from the ophthalmic and short posterior ciliary arteries were not significantly different compared with controls. Conclusions: This study demonstrates marked circulatory changes in the central retinal artery of eyes involved with the ARN syndrome. Although the exact mechanism and clinical significance are yet to be determined, the data support the presence of retinal arterial hemodynamic compromise in this condition.