Temporal ischemic changes in glycerol and energy metabolites were studied in the striatum, hippocampus and cortex of gerbils subjected to 15 min of bilateral carotid artery occlusion alone or with various periods of recirculation. The same tissue sample served for the determination of glycerol and energy reserve by a simple enzymatic fluoro- and spectrometric assay after perchloric acid extraction. Cerebral ischemia increased the levels of glycerol (8- to 10-fold) and depleted the energy stores. During the first hour of recirculation, the glycerol content decreased and thereafter (at 2 h), normalized in all structures. However, the glycerol content was still twice as high in the striatum and hippocampus as compared to their respective controls. At the same time, an incomplete restoration of energy reserves was observed in these structures. The findings indicate that glycerol is not a stable postischemic indicator of the ischemia-induced membrane damage.