Purpose Massage therapy is very popular in the U.S. and rated by patients as helpful self-care modality. It is used for a variety of conditions: most commonly for chronic pain and musculoskeletal problems, but also to alleviate stress, anxiety, and depression. It has been reported that changes in regional cerebral blood flow measured by PET scanning when palm-pressure back massage was applied to subjects in prone position. However, the mechanism of massage therapy effect is not yet known. Therefore, we sought to examine the effects of massage on the acute stress response in healthy subjects using functional imaging and plasma catecholamines measurements.