The feasibility of making spatially resolved measurements of blood flow using pulsed photoacoustic Doppler techniques has been explored. Doppler time shifts were quantified via cross-correlation of pairs of photoacoustic waveforms generated within a blood-simulating phantom using pairs of laser light pulses. The photoacoustic waves were detected using a focussed or planar PZT ultrasound transducer. For each flow measurement, a series of 100 waveform pairs was collected. Previous data processing methods involved rejection of poorly correlated waveform pairs; the modal velocity value and standard deviation were then extracted from the selected distribution of velocity measurements. However, the data selection criteria used in this approach is to some extent arbitrary. A new data analysis protocol, which involves averaging the 100 cross-correlation functions and thus uses all of the measured data, has been designed in order to prevent exclusion of outliers. This more rigorous approach has proved effective for quantifying the linear motion of micron-scale absorbers imprinted on an acetate sheet moving with velocities in the range 0.14 to 1.25 ms-1. Experimental parameters, such as the time separation between the laser pulses and the transducer frequency response, were evaluated in terms of their effect on the accuracy, resolution and range of measurable velocities. The technique was subsequently applied to fluid phantoms flowing at rates less than 5 mms-1 along an optically transparent tube. Preliminary results are described for three different suspensions of phenolic resin microspheres, and also for whole blood. Velocity information was obtained even under non-optimal conditions using a low frequency transducer and a low pulse repetition frequency. The distinguishing advantage of pulsed rather than continuous-wave excitation is that spatially resolved velocity measurements can be made. This offers the prospect of mapping flow within the microcirculation and thus providing insights into the perfusion of tumours and other pathologies characterised by abnormalities in flow status.© (2011) COPYRIGHT Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE). Downloading of the abstract is permitted for personal use only.