31P and 1H nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) was used to study the metabolism of intact superfused cortical brain slices during normoxia and anoxia. Attention was focused on quantification of 1H NMR-detected glutamate by a water-suppressed spin-echo method, using N-acetyl aspartate as an internal concentration reference. To quantify the 1H NMR signals, the spin-spin relaxation times and saturation effects were estimated for given metabolites. In addition, absolute concentrations of metabolites were determined by biochemical methods from acid extracts of the preparations after NMR experiments. Under aerobic conditions, 1H NMR detected 79% of the glutamate determined biochemically from the brain slice extracts. During anoxia in the absence of glucose when a severe energetic failure was evident, both 1H NMR and biochemical assays gave closely matching levels for glutamate. We conclude that in the brain cortex 21% of glutamate is located in an intracellular compartment in which this amino acid does not contribute to the 1H NMR signal. However, during severe anoxia an intracellular reorganisation occurs increasing the detectability of this amino acid neurotransmitter by NMR.