BACKGROUND: With the understanding of angiogenesis and arteriogenesis, new theories about the orchestration of these processes have emerged. The aim of this study was to develop an in vivo model that enables visualization of vascular regenerating mechanisms by intravital microscopy techniques in collateral arteriolar flap vascularity. METHODS: A dorsal skin flap (15 × 30 mm) was created in mice and fixed into a skinfold chamber to allow for assessment of morphology and microhemodynamics by intravital fluorescence microscopy (IVFM). Laser scanning confocal microscopy (LSCM) was utilized for three-dimensional reconstruction of the microvascular architecture. RESULTS: Flap tpO(2) was 5.3 ± 0.9 versus 30.5 ± 1.2 mm Hg in controls (p < 0.01). The collateral arterioles in the flap tissue were dilated (29.4 ± 5.3 μm; p < 0.01 vs. controls) and lengthened in a tortuous manner (tortuosity index 1.00 on day 1 vs. 1.35± 0.05 on day 12; p < 0.01). Functional capillary density was increased from 121.00 ± 25 to 170 ± 30 cm/cm(2) (day 12; p < 0.01) as a result of angiogenesis. Morphological evidence of angiogenesis on capillary level and vascular remodeling on arteriolar level could be demonstrated by IVFM and LSCM. CONCLUSIONS: Present intravital microscopy techniques offer unique opportunities to study structural changes and hemodynamic effects of vascular regeneration in this extended axial pattern flap model.