We developed a simple, non-invasive method to measure the intramammary pressure (IMP) response in sows during natural milk ejection and after i.v. injections of oxytocin. The teats of sows were cannulated and the amplitude and duration of IMP changes were measured via a pressure transducer linked to a computer. During natural milk ejections, the amplitude of the response was 5.5 +/- 1.8 kPa (mean so) and the duration of response at half the peak amplitude was 6-8 +/- 1.6 s. In response to oxytocin a threshold response occurred at 60 mIU oxytocin with no further change up to 200 mIU. The amplitude of the response to an i.v. dose of 60-200 mIU oxytocin (5.5 +/- 2.2 kPa) and duration (6.4 +/- 1.7 s) were similar to that during a natural milk ejection. The responses of two galactophorous ducts of a teat measured simultaneously were similar in peak amplitude and duration. When the responses of four glands of a sow were measured simultaneously, there was a lag time in the onset of the IMP peak from the anterior to the posterior glands, and an increase in the peak amplitude from anterior to posterior. Both during natural milk ejections and in response to oxytocin injections, there were significant differences in peak amplitude between sows. We also aimed to determine whether the pressure or duration of milk flow during natural milk ejections was limiting piglet growth rates. IMP of nine sows and the growth rates of their piglets were measured. Both the peak amplitude of IMP response and the growth rate of piglets increased over the course of lactation, but the relationship was not causal. We found that the growth rate of piglets did not depend on IMP amplitude or duration, but we suggest that it may depend on the frequency of suckling and/or the ability of piglets to withdraw milk while it is available.