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Skin oxygen tension (TcPO2) was measured at 43 degrees C on patients (n = 27) with venous ulcers. Measurements were made at ulcer edge and proximally on the same limb for control. Similar measurements were also made on healthy volunteers (n = 14) in the medial aspects of the distal third of the legs. TcPO2 at ulcer edge was significantly lower (P = 0.001) than control values which in turn were lower than that measured on healthy volunteers. TcPO2 reflects skin nutrition. While low TcPO2 at ulcer edges might be the result of pericapillary barriers to oxygen transport, the control values measured on apparently normal skin suggest the need for further studies.