Glutamate and related amino acids were determined in 53 discrete brain areas of 3- and 29-month-old male Fischer 344 rats microdissected with the punch technique. The levels of amino acids showed high regional variation - the ratio of the highest to lowest level was 9 for aspartate, 5 for glutamate, 6 for glutamine, and 21 for GABA. Several areas were found to have all four amino acids at very high or at very low level, but also some areas had some amino acids at high, others at low level. With age, in more than half of the areas, significant changes could be observed; decrease occurred 5 times more frequently than increase. Changes occurred more often in levels of aspartate and GABA than in those of glutamate or glutamine. The regional levels of glutamate and its related amino acids show severalfold variations, with the levels tending to decrease in the aged brain.