This paper reports the electrical characterization and an equivalent circuit of a microhollow cathode discharge (MHCD) reactor in the self-pulsing regime. A MHCD reactor was prototyped for air plasma generation, and its current-voltage characteristics were measured experimentally in the self-pulsing regime for applied voltages from 2000 to 3000 V. The reactor was modeled as a capacitor in parallel with a variable resistor. A stray capacitance was also introduced to the circuit model to represent the capacitance of the circuit elements in the experimental setup. The values of the resistor and capacitors were recovered from experimental data, and the proposed circuit model was validated with independent experiments. Experimental data showed that increasing the applied voltage increased the current, self-pulsing frequency and average power consumption of the reactor, while it decreased the peak voltage. The maximum and the minimum voltages obtained using the model were in agreement with the experimental data within 2.5%, whereas the differences between peak current values were less than 1%. At all applied voltages, the equivalent circuit model was able to accurately represent the peak and average power consumption as well as the self-pulsing frequency within the experimental uncertainty. Although the results shown in this paper was for atmospheric air pressures, the proposed equivalent circuit model of the MHCD reactor could be generalized for other gases at different pressures. (C) 2014 AIP Publishing LLC.