In surgical animal studies anesthesia is used regularly. Several reports in the literature demonstrate respiratory and cardiovascular side effects of anesthesiologic agents. The aim of this study was to compare two frequently used anesthesia cocktails (ketamine/xylazine [KX] versus medetomidine/climazolam/fentanyl [MCF]) in skin flap mouse models. Systemic blood values, local metabolic parameters, and surgical outcome should be analyzed in critical ischemic skin flap models. Systemic hypoxia was found in the animals undergoing KX anesthesia compared with normoxia in the MCF group (sO(2): 89.2% +/- 2.4% versus 98.5% +/- 1.2%, P < 0.01). Analysis of tissue metabolism revealed impaired anaerobic oxygen metabolism and increased cellular damage in critical ischemic flap tissue under KX anesthesia (lactate/pyruvate ratio: KX 349.86 +/- 282.38 versus MCF 64.53 +/- 18.63; P < 0.01 and glycerol: KX 333.50 +/- 83.91 micromol/L versus MCF 195.83 +/- 29.49 micromol/L; P < 0.01). After 6 d, different rates of flap tissue necrosis could be detected (MCF 57% +/- 6% versus KX 68% +/- 6%, P < 0.01). In summary we want to point out that the type of anesthesia, the animal model and the goal of the study have to be well correlated. Comparing the effects of KX and MCF anesthesia in mice on surgical outcome was a novel aspect of our study.