The brain is composed of a heterogeneous population of neurons whose physiological characteristics often elude morphological identification. The tight coupling between neuronal activity and oxidative energy metabolism forms the basis for the use of cytochrome oxidase as an endogenous metabolic marker for neurons. In the past decade, cytochrome oxidase histo- and cytochemistry have provided a window to view the regional, cellular and subcellular functional diversity among neurons. These methods have shown that the entire neuron is often not metabolically homogeneous; most of the oxidative activity is usually found in dendrites. They have also revealed the dynamic metabolic responses of developing and mature neurons to altered functional demands.