The relative contribution of vasodilating factors to the control of blood flow in the forearm cutaneous microcirculation is not well defined. Therefore, a mathematical transformation is introduced to decompose the superimposed signal and to investigate the involved mechanisms separately. Transdermal iontophoresis was used for the delivery of acetylcholine (ACh) or sodium nitroprusside (SNP) into the forearm, and cutaneous perfusion was measured using a laser Doppler flowmeter (LDF). The curve fitting procedure used in this study indicates that the LDF signal in response to ACh iontophoresis can be described by the superposition of two independent hyperbolic response curves. Obviously, each component of LDF signal indicates the existence of a separate mechanism, with corresponding rate constant k, latency T, and the saturation level F max. Blockade of C-fiber function (axon reflex) with topical anesthesia removes one of the two components of this response and allows the precise quantification of its contribution. SNP-evoked response also has two components, but their parameters were different from those of ACh. Therefore, ACh and SNP cause vasodilation in the skin microcirculation through different pathways. These findings have implications for clinical studies that use the iontophoresis technique for assessing vascular function and comparing responses to ACh and SNP to evaluate endothelial dysfunction. © 2004 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.