Injury to the cerebral cortex results in functional deficits not only within the vicinity of the lesion but also in remote brain regions sharing neuronal connections with the injured site. To understand the electrophysiological basis of this phenomenon, we evaluated the effects of a focal intracerebral hemorrhage (ICH) on cortical excitability in a remote, functionally connected brain region. Cortical excitability was assessed by measuring the somatic evoked potential (SEP) elicited by electrical stimulation of the swine snout, which is somatotopically represented in the rostrum area of the primary somatosensory (SI) cortex. The SEP was measured on the SI cortex ipsilateral to the site of ICH and on the contralateral SI cortex during the acute period (< or =11 h) after collagenase-induced ICH. The ICH rapidly attenuated the SEP on the ipsilateral cortex as we reported earlier. Interestingly, the ICH also attenuated the SEP on the contralateral SI cortex. Evoked potentials in the contralateral SI cortex showed a gradual decrease in amplitude during this acute period of ICH. We then investigated whether the interhemispheric connections shared by the contralateral SI and the lesion cortex were responsible for the diminished evoked potentials in the uninjured hemisphere after ICH. A separate group of animals underwent corpus callosal transection prior to electrocorticography (ECoG) recordings and ICH injury. Within hours of hemorrhagic injury, a gradual but marked increase in evoked potential amplitude was observed in the homotopic SI cortex of callosotomized animals as compared to pre-injection recordings. The enhancement suggests that there are additional effects of ICH on remote areas functionally connected to the site of injury. Functional deficits were present in both SI cortices within the first several hours of a unilateral injury indicating that the cessation of brain activity in the lesioned SI is mirrored in the contralateral hemisphere. This electrophysiological depression in the uninjured SI cortex is mediated in part by the interhemispheric connections of the corpus callosum.