Galanin is associated with multiple projection neurons, and its immunoreactivity in the cerebral cortex may be derived from diverse sources. We investigated the effects of subcortical lesions on cerebral cortical galanin concentrations. Lesions of the anterior noradrenergic bundle (ANB) comparably reduced cerebral cortical galanin and norepinephrine (NE) concentrations. The effects of the ANB lesions on galanin were immediate and became most pronounced 1 week later. Extensive unilateral lesions of the nucleus basalis of Meynert (NBM) decreased galanin concentrations, although not as markedly as after ANB lesions. The NBM lesions had no additional effect in the presence of an ANB lesion. Decreases in cerebral cortical galanin concentrations depended upon the extent and the duration of the NBM lesion and were not as pronounced as the decreases in markers of cholinergic activity. Acute treatments with physostigmine, which inhibit cerebral cortical AChE, had no effect on galanin concentrations. The depletion of galanin following an NBM lesion was most pronounced within hours of the insult, while the depletion of ChAT following the same lesions required several days to develop. Cortical concentrations of galanin and 5-HT increased 1 hr after dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) lesions and then decreased 7 d later. Six weeks later, galanin concentrations recovered in the cerebral cortex despite the continued depletion of 5-HT. These studies suggest that a substantial portion of cerebral cortical galanin may derive from noradrenergic neurons and may be modulated by cortically- projecting ACh and 5-HT neurons.