Percutaneous absorption of the vasodilator methyl nicotinate (MN) was evaluated in human volunteers at three anatomic sites (forehead, forearm and palm) using the technique of laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF). The experiments were designed to test the hypothesis that the kinetics and extent of skin penetration are dependent upon the appendageal density at the site of application. The LDF technique measured the increase in skin blood flow elicited by topically applied MN once the chemical had penetrated to the microvasculature. Significant differences in the measured LDF responses at the three sites were found, and further analysis of the data suggested that MN penetration was greatest through forehead skin, least through the palm and intermediate across the skin of the forearm. A correlation therefore existed between apparent MN absorption and appendageal density.