- Several motor-function scales have been developed to assess neurological function in animal models of stroke, subarachnoid hemorrhage and closed head injury. We hypothesize that the location of arterial and venous catheters, even in the absence of brain injury, may impact rats' motor performance. Our study examined the effect of catheter location, rate of infection and the time required for catheter placement. We further describe an original technique of tail artery cannulation without exposure of the artery. Sixty-one rats were anesthetized and randomly assigned to one of seven groups, including no catheter, tail artery or artery + vein catheters, or femoral artery or artery + vein catheters. A neurological severity score (NSS) was determined at 1 h, 24 h and 48 h after surgical preparation or catheter placement. NSS at 1 h after placement of unilateral and bilateral femoral catheters was higher than the NSS observed at 1 h after placement of tail arterial and venous catheters (P < 0.01). The NSS also was higher at 24 h in the bilateral femoral catheter groups as compared with the tail catheter groups (P < 0.05). There were no differences in the NSS observed between the groups that had tail catheters and the sham group at 1 h, 24 h or 48 h. Infection rate at the site of catheter placement and the time required for catheter placement was also higher in the femoral catheter groups (P < 0.001). Thus, we propose that the line location may bias a study's results and lead to deceptive interpretations of neurological assessment following rat head injury. Compared to femoral vessels, tail blood vessels are preferable locations for lines placement.