Five min bilateral carotid artery occlusion (BCO) in gerbils results in selective degeneration of neurons in the hippocampus, striatum and cortex, and an increase in spontaneous locomotor activity. These phenomena were examined to determine if an association could be made between the site or degree of neuronal degeneration and the increase in locomotor activity. The distance traveled by the BCO gerbils in a novel cage 1, 4, and 28 days after a 5 min occlusion was significantly greater than control. The extensive pyramidal cell damage in the CA1 region of the hippocampus in BCO gerbils was associated with the significant increase in locomotor activity. The increase in locomotor activity did not correlate with either the striatal or cortical damage present. The increase in gerbil locomotor activity following a 5 min BCO can be used as a predictor of CA1 damage, but not as a predictor of striatal or cortical damage.