Proton nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy is a noninvasive technique allowing the localized, in vivo detection of proton-containing brain metabolites. We used this technique to study eight patients with cerebral infarction or ischemia. A stimulated echo-pulse sequence with chemical shift imaging was used to acquire spectra from multiple contiguous 4-cc volumes extending from the site of ischemia to the opposite hemisphere. Six patients had a reduction in the signal from N-acetyl groups (NAG) in the stroke area compared with controls, and those with the lowest NAG to phosphocreatine/creatine ratios had the least recovery of function. Lactate was observed within the infarcted region in two patients at 9 and 11 days after infarction and may have been present in other patients up to 15 weeks after stroke.