Microdialysis is a technique for sampling the chemistry of the interstitial fluid of tissues and organs in animal and man. It is minimally invasive and simple to perform in a clinical setting. Although microdialysis samples essentially all small molecular substances present in the interstitial fluid the use of microdialysis in neurointensive care has focused on markers of ischemia and cell damage. The lactate/pyruvate ratio is a well-known marker of changes in the redox state of cells caused by ischemia Glycerol is an integral component of cell membranes. Loss of energy due to ischemia eventually leads to an influx of calcium and a decomposition of cell membranes, which liberates glycerol into the interstitial fluid. Thus the lactate/pyruvate ratio and glycerol have become the most important markers of ischemia and cell membrane damage. While the primary insult at the site of the accident is beyond our control, secondary insults during intensive care should be avoided by all means. Therefore, the single most important finding from microdialysis studies is the dramatic difference in the vulnerability of the penumbra surrounding a lesion as compared to normal brain tissue allowing early detection of secondary insults after traumatic brain injury as well as the onset of vasospasm after subarachnoid hemorrhage.