Extracorporeal shock wave lithotripsy (SWL) can injure tissue and decrease blood flow in the SWL-treated kidney, both tissue and functional effects being largely localized to the region targeted with shock waves (SWs). A novel method of limiting SWL-induced tissue injury is to employ the "protection" protocol, where the kidney is pretreated with low-energy SWs prior to the application of a standard clinical dose of high-energy SWs. Resistive index measurements of renal vascular resistance/impedance to blood flow during SWL treatment protocols revealed that a standard clinical dose of high-energy SWs did not alter RI during SW application. However, there was an interaction between low- and high-energy SWL treatment phases of the "protection" protocol such that an increase in RI (vasoconstriction) was observed during the later half of SW application, a time when tissue damage is occurring during the standard high-energy SWL protocol. We suggest that renal vasoconstriction may be responsible for reducing the degree of tissue damage that normally results from a standard clinical dose of high-energy SWs.