BACKGROUND: The effect of various sedatives and anesthetics on vasopressor modulation of cerebral blood flow (CBF) in children is unclear. In adults, isoflurane has been described to decrease CBF to a lesser extent than fentanyl and midazolam. Most large-animal models of neurocritical care use inhaled anesthetics for anesthesia. Investigations involving modulations of CBF would have improved translatability within a model that more closely approximates the current practice in the pediatric intensive care unit. METHODS: Fifteen 4-week-old piglets were given 1 of 2 anesthetic protocols: total IV anesthesia (TIVA) (midazolam 1 mg/kg/h and fentanyl 100 μg/kg/h, n = 8) or ISO (isoflurane 1.5%-2% and fentanyl 100 μg/kg/h, n = 7). Mean arterial blood pressure, intracranial pressure (ICP), CBF, and brain tissue oxygen tension were measured continuously as piglets were exposed to escalating doses of arginine vasopressin, norepinephrine (NE), and phenylephrine (PE). RESULTS: Baseline CBF was similar in the 2 groups (ISO 38 ± 10 vs TIVA 35 ± 26 mL/100 g/min) despite lower baseline cerebral perfusion pressure in the ISO group (45 ± 11 vs 71 ± 11 mm Hg; P < 0.0005). Piglets in the ISO group displayed increases in ICP with PE and NE (11 ± 4 vs 16 ± 4 mm Hg and 11 ± 8 vs 18 ± 5 mm Hg; P < 0.05), but in the TIVA group, only exposure to PE resulted in increases in ICP when comparing maximal dose values with baseline data (11 ± 4 vs 15 ± 5 mm Hg; P < 0.05). Normalized CBF displayed statistically significant increases regarding anesthetic group and vasopressor dose when piglets were exposed to NE and PE (P < 0.05), suggesting an impairment of autoregulation within ISO, but not TIVA. CONCLUSION: The vasopressor effect on CBF was limited when using a narcotic-benzodiazepine-based anesthetic protocol compared with volatile anesthetics, consistent with a preservation of autoregulation. Selection of anesthetic drugs is critical to investigate mechanisms of cerebrovascular hemodynamics, and in translating critical care investigations between the laboratory and bedside.