[1-(13) C]glucose metabolism in the rat brain was investigated after intravenous infusion of the labelled substrate. Incorporation of the label into metabolites was analysed by NMR spectroscopy as a function of the infusion time: 10, 20, 30 or 60 min. Specific enrichments in purified mono- and dicarboxylic amino acids were determined from (1) H-observed/(13) C-edited and (13) C-NMR spectroscopy. The relative contribution of pyruvate carboxylase versus pyruvate dehydrogenase (PC/PDH) to amino acid labelling was evaluated from the enrichment difference between either C2 and C3 for Glu and Gln, or C4 and C3 for GABA, respectively. No contribution of pyruvate carboxylase to aspartate, glutamate or GABA labelling was evidenced. The pyruvate carboxylase contribution to glutamine labelling varied with time. PC/PDH decreased from around 80% after 10 min to less than 30% between 20 and 60 min. This was interpreted as reflecting different labelling kinetics of the two glutamine precursor glutamate pools: the astrocytic glutamate and the neuronal glutamate taken up by astrocytes through the glutamate-glutamine cycle. The results are discussed in the light of the possible occurrence of neuronal pyruvate carboxylation. The methods previously used to determine PC/PDH in brain were re-evaluated as regards their capacity to discriminate between astrocytic (via pyruvate carboxylase) and neuronal (via malic enzyme) pyruvate carboxylation.