The functional consequences of acute cocaine administration in nonhuman primates were assessed using the quantitative 2-[14C]deoxyglucose method. Local rates of cerebral metabolism were determined after an intravenous infusion of 1.0 mg/kg cocaine or vehicle in six awake cynomolgus monkeys (Macaca fascicularis) trained to sit calmly in a primate chair. Cocaine administration decreased glucose utilization in a discrete set of structures that included both cortical and subcortical portions of the limbic system. Glucose metabolism in the core and shell of the nucleus accumbens was decreased markedly, and smaller decrements were observed in the caudate and anterior putamen. In addition, cocaine administration produced significant decreases in limbic cortex. Metabolism was decreased in orbitofrontal cortex (areas 11, 12o, 13, 13a, 13b), portions of the gyrus rectus including area 25, entorhinal cortex, and parts of the hippocampal formation. The cortical regions in which functional activity was altered provide dense projections to the nucleus accumbens, and the decreased activity in these projections may be responsible in part of the large alterations in functional activity within the ventral striatum. Decreased metabolism also was evident in the anterior nuclear group of the thalamus, raphe nuclei, and locus ceruleus. The acute cerebral metabolic effects of cocaine in the conscious macaque, therefore, were contained primarily within a set of interconnected limbic regions, including ventral prefrontal cortex, medial temporal regions, the ventral striatal complex, and anterior thalamus. The decreased rates of glucose metabolism reported here resemble decrements found using positron emission tomography in humans. In the rat, by contrast, metabolic activity increased and changes were focused in subcortical regions. The present results represent an important expansion of the neural circuitry on which cocaine acts in the monkey as compared with the rat, and this in turn implies that cocaine affects a broader spectra of behaviors in primates than in rodents.