A hot water interstitial hyperthermia unit was used to heat normal tissue in the thighs of rabbits and pigs. A 4°4 array of metal needles or plastic tubes spaced at 10 or 14 mm was implanted. Temperature measurements were made using five-sensor thermocouple probes inserted parallel to the implanted needles or tubes. With a water temperature of 48°C, tissue temperature within the implant exceeded 42.5°C when tube spacing was 14 mm and reached 47°C when the spacing was 10 mm. However, at the lower water temperature of 45.5°C inter-tube spacing was more critical, since the tissue temperature was above 43.5°C for a spacing of 10 mm but below 42.5°C for a spacing of 14 mm. Temperatures observed in vivo tended to be higher than those predicted by computer simulations, in which blood flow was assumed to be greater than that of resting muscle i.e. ≥0.45 kg m-3 s-1. The results show that an interstitial system using hot water can be a simple and efficient method of inducing hyperthermia. © 1990 Informa UK Ltd All rights reserved: reproduction in whole or part not permitted.