Animal models are widely used to investigate the pathological mechanisms of spinal cord injury (SCI), most commonly in rats. It is well known that compromised blood flow caused by mechanical disruption of the vasculature can produce irreversible damage and cell death in hypoperfused tissue regions and spinal cord tissue is particularly susceptible to such damage. A fiberoptic photoplethysmography (PPG) probe and instrumentation system were used to investigate the practical considerations of making measurements from rat spinal cord and to assess its suitability for use in SCI models. Experiments to assess the regional perfusion of exposed spinal cord in anesthetized adult rats using both PPG and laser Doppler flowmetry (LDF) were performed. It was found that signals could be obtained reliably from all subjects, although considerable intersite and intersubject variability was seen in the PPG signal amplitude compared to LDF. We present results from 30 measurements in five subjects, the two methods are compared, and practical application to SCI animal models is discussed.