The concentration of extracellular glucose in anesthetized rat brain was measured continuously with two types of substrate-specific microelectrodes in a number of physiological and pathological conditions. Extracellular glucose level increased in hyperglycemia and decreased in hypoglycemia, paralleling the changes in blood sugar. Increased neuronal activity and in particular spreading depression, evoked triphasic alterations in extracellular glucose concentration: an initial rapid fall was followed by an equally swift overshoot above the baseline and a subsequent return to it. Limitation in O2 supply led to a decline in extracellular content of glucose: respiration with 5% O2 reduced the level by 7–20% and that with 3% O2 by 75–85%. Decreases to undetectable concentrations were seen in ischemia despite the use of an oxygen-insensitive microglucose sensor. Restoration of oxygen supply to the brain was accompanied by increases in extracellular glucose content above the original normoxic level, which returned to baseline values after 10–15 min. In hyperglycemic animals ischemia-induced leakage of K+ was delayed while the rate of recovery to control levels after restitution of blood flow was enhanced. It is concluded that continuous monitoring of glucose with glucose-specific microelectrodes provides a new and important insight into brain energy metabolism.