The applicability of the [14C]deoxyglucose method for measuring local cerebral glucose utilization (lCMRglc) has been extended for use in hypoglycemia by determination of the values of the lumped constant to be used in rats with plasma glucose concentrations ranging from approximately 2 to 6 mM. Lumped constant values were higher in hypoglycemia and declined from a value of 1.2 at the lowest arterial plasma glucose level (1.9 mM) to about 0.48 in normoglycemia. The distribution of glucose, and therefore also of the lumped constant, was found to remain relatively uniform throughout the brain at the lowest plasma glucose levels studied. lCMRglc in moderate, insulin-induced hypoglycemia (mean arterial plasma glucose concentration +/- SD of 2.4 +/- 0.3 mM) was determined with the appropriate lumped constant corresponding to the animal's plasma glucose concentration and compared with the results obtained in six normoglycemic rats. The weighted average rate of glucose utilization for the brain as a whole was significantly depressed by 14% in the hypoglycemic animals, i.e., 61 mumols/100 g/min in hypoglycemia compared to 71 mumols/100 g/min in the normoglycemic controls (p less than 0.05). lCMRglc was lower in 47 of 49 structures examined but statistically significantly below the rate in normoglycemic rats in only six structures (p less than 0.05) by multiple comparison statistics. Regions within the brainstem were most prominently affected. The greatest reductions, statistically significant or not, occurred in structures in which glucose utilization is normally high, suggesting that glucose delivery and transport to the tissue became rate-limiting first in those structures with the greatest metabolic demands for glucose.