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A minimally invasive probe and instrument system for real-time measurements of temperature, thermal conductivity and tissue blood flow has been designed for research and clinical use. The essence of the probe is a thermistor, located at the tip of catheters or glass and steel needles, and operating in transient self-heated mode at constant temperature increment. Thermal conductivity and tissue blood flow are determined by use of a coupled tissue-probe thermal model. The effects of temporal baseline temperature shifts are minimized by a novel, automatic, analog compensation circuit. Very short heating periods (3 s) and cooling periods (12 s) provided near-continuous measurements (4/min). Calibration experiments performed in media of known thermal conductivity exhibit a linear response with respect to thermal conductivity. In vitro experiments performed in isolated perfused dog liver preparations are presented to evaluate this instrument system. In vivo experiments performed in cat brain, dog liver, and human tumor demonstrate the ability of this instrument system to perform physiologically valid measurements (comparison inter-subjects and intra-subjects). The minimally invasive probes (0.8 mm OD) are capable of long term measurements (several months), with minimal tissue reactions (0.3 mm around the probe).