In order to understand how interstitial fluid pressure and flow affect cell behavior, many studies use microfluidic approaches to apply externally controlled pressures to the boundary of a cell-containing gel. It is generally assumed that the resulting interstitial pressure distribution quickly reaches a steady-state, but this assumption has not been rigorously tested. Here, we demonstrate experimentally and computationally that the interstitial fluid pressure within an extracellular matrix gel in a microfluidic device can, in some cases, react with a long time delay to external loading. Remarkably, the source of this delay is the slight (∼100 nm in the cases examined here) distension of the walls of the device under pressure. Finite-element models show that the dynamics of interstitial pressure can be described as an instantaneous jump, followed by axial and transverse diffusion, until the steady pressure distribution is reached. The dynamics follow scaling laws that enable estimation of a gel's poroelastic constants from time-resolved measurements of interstitial fluid pressure.