The nucleus accumbens (NAc) is a heterogeneous area, divided into a 'shell' and a 'core' on the basis of morphological and histochemical criteria. Moreover, the two portions have different anatomical connections. In order to test whether the two portions of NAc are functionally distinct, we measured local cerebral glucose utilization in rats administered intravenously with cocaine (1 mg kg-1) or amphetamine (0.5 mg kg-1). The results of the study show that, at these dosages, both drugs increase glucose utilization in the shell, but not in the core of NAc. This differential effect might reflect functional differences between the two portions of NAc, probably relevant to the abuse liability of psychostimulants.