In a retrospective study of critical ischaemia of the lower limb, sympathectomy appeared to be of value in the majority of patients. We therefore assessed sympathectomy by measuring skin blood flow before and after the procedure using laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF) and transcutaneous oxygen tension (TCpO2) techniques. Twenty patients underwent chemical sympathectomy and there was one surgical procedure. Measurements were performed before and 1 week after sympathectomy below the knee and on the forefoot. Symptomatic improvement occurred in 20 of 21 patients. This study demonstrates that skin blood flow in the leg and foot is improved by sympathectomy and confirms objectively our clinical impression.