Several recent results show that sleep and sleep regulation are not only global phenomena encompassing the entire brain, but have local features. It is well established that slow-wave activity [SWA; mean electroencephalographic (EEG) power density in the 0.75-4.0 Hz band] in non-rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep is a function of the prior history of sleep and wakefulness. SWA is thought to reflect the homeostatic component of the two-process model of sleep regulation. According to this model, originally formulated for the rat and later extended to human sleep, the timing and structure of sleep are determined by the interaction of a homeostatic Process S and a circadian process. Our aim was to investigate the dynamics of SWA in the EEG of two brain regions (frontal and occipital cortex) after sleep deprivation (SD) in two of the mice strains most often used in gene targeting. C57BL/6J (n = 9) and 129/Ola (n = 8) were recorded during a 24-h baseline day, 6-h SD, and 18-h recovery. Both derivations showed a significant increase in SWA in NREM sleep after SD in both strains. In the first hour of recovery, SWA was enhanced more in the frontal derivation than in the occipital derivation and showed a faster decline. This difference resulted in a lower value for the time constant for the decrease of SWA in the frontal derivation (frontal: 10.9 +/- 2.1 and 6.8 +/- 0.9 h in Ola and C57, respectively; occipital: 16.6 +/- 2.1 and 14.1 +/- 1.5 h; P < 0.02; for each of the strains; paired t-test). Neither time constant differed significantly between the strains. The subdivision of SWA into a slower and faster band (0.75-2.5 Hz and 2.75-4.0 Hz) further highlighted regional differences in the effect of SD. The lower frequency band had a higher initial value in the frontal derivation than in the occipital derivation in both strains. Moreover, in the higher frequency band a prominent reversal took place so that power in the frontal derivation fell below the occipital values in both strains. Thus our results indicate that there may be differences in the brain in the effects of SD on SWA in mice, suggesting regional differences in the dynamics of the homeostatic component of sleep regulation. The data support the hypothesis that sleep has local, use- or waking-dependent features that are reflected in the EEG, as has been shown for humans and the laboratory rat.