Recently, the novel optical system, orthogonal polarized spectral (OPS) imaging was developed to visualize microcirculation. Investigation of changes in microcirculation is essential for physiological, pathophysiological, and pharmacological studies. In the present study applicability of OPS imaging was assessed to study pial microcirculation in normal and traumatized rat brain. High quality images of rat pial microcirculation in normal and traumatized rats were generated with the OPS imaging, allowing to easily differentiate arterioles and venules with the dura remaining intact. In non-traumatized rats, mean vessel diameter of arterioles and venules of five different cortical regions was 19.1+/-2.7 and 22.2+/-1.4 microm, respectively. In the early phase following focal cortical contusion vessel diameter was significantly decreased in arterioles by 28% while diameter in venules was significantly increased by 27%. For technical reasons velocity in arterioles was not measurable. In venules, mean flow velocity of 0.68+/-0.08 mm/s was significantly decreased by 50% at 30 min after trauma. OPS imaging is an easy to use optical system allowing to generate high quality images and to reliably investigate pial microcirculation without having to remove the dura. This technique opens the possibility to perform longitudinal studies investigating changes in pial microcirculation.