In this multinuclear NMR study myo-inositol is identified as a glia-specific marker for in vivo NMR studies. The unusually high inositol concentration may participate in the osmoregulatory system in astrocytes. Primary astrocytes also synthesize and export high amounts of hypotaurine, an intermediate of taurine synthesis. Taurine--another osmolyte--is synthesized from cysteine by astrocytes but not by primary neurons. Taurine as well as hypotaurine is accumulated by neurons from the extracellular medium. 13C NMR labelling results with 2-13C pyruvate indicate a considerable contribution of the anaplerotic pathway in primary neurons from rat. The activity is only half of the activity in primary astrocytes. The ratio of pyruvate carboxylase/malic enzyme activity versus pyruvate dehydrogenase activity reflects the degree of maturation. The 13C isotopomer ratio of glutamate and glutamine is different for pure astrocyte cultures. Therefore, the different isotopomer ratios of glutamate to glutamine obtained from intact brain studies alone do not prove TCA cycle compartimentation in the brain. Finally, the PCr/ATP ratio in primary astrocytes is 3 times higher than in primary neurons. This has to be considered in case of recovery from ischemic insults.