The altered neuron activity of rats deficient in (n-3) PUFAs may be due in part to a decrease in brain glucose utilization and glucose transport. We measured the glucose transporter protein GLUT1 isoforms at the blood-brain barrier (55-kDa) and in astrocytes (45-kDa) by Western immunoblotting and their mRNA by real time RT-PCR analysis in the cerebral cortex of adult male rats fed diets lacking (n-3) fatty acids (1st generation). The neuron glucose transporter GLUT3 was also assayed. The fatty acids in the phosphatidylcholine (PC), ethanolamine phosphoglycerolipid (EPG), and phosphatidylserine (PS) fractions of isolated microvessels and homogenates of the cerebral cortex were determined. The levels of (n-6) PUFAs [mainly arachidonic acid, 20:4(n-6)] in the phospholipid fractions of microvessels were higher and the levels of (n-3) PUFAs [mainly docosahexaenoic acid, 22:6(n-3)] were lower than in cerebral cortex homogenates. The microvessels and cortex of rats fed the (n-3) PUFA-deficient diet had 50% of the control 22:6(n-3) contents; 22:6(n-3) was replaced by 22:5(n-6). The 55-kDa GLUT1 immunoreactivity in (n-3) PUFA-deficient microvessels was decreased (down 25%, P < 0.01), as was the 45 kDa-GLUT1 in the homogenate (down 30%, P < 0.01). But the amount of immunoreactivity of GLUT3 did not change. The amount of GLUT1 mRNA was not affected by the (n-3) PUFA-deficient diet. These results suggest that the decreased glucose utilization in the cerebral cortex of (n-3) PUFA-deficient rats is due to reduced amounts of the 2 isoforms of GLUT1, indicating post-transcriptional regulation of GLUT1 synthesis.