The authors have developed a method for routine monitoring of disturbances in brain energy metabolism and extracellular levels of excitatory amino acids using intracerebral microdialysis in 10 patients with subarachnoid hemorrhage. Microdialysis was conducted for periods ranging from 6 to 11 days after ictus. Altogether, 16,054 chemical analyses from 1647 dialysate samples were performed. Concentrations of the energy-related substances lactate, pyruvate, glucose, and hypoxanthine were measured, and the lactate/pyruvate ratio was calculated. The excitatory amino acids glutamate and aspartate were measured. The microdialysis data were matched with computerized tomography findings, clinical course, and outcome. The results support the concepts that microdialysis is a promising tool for chemical monitoring of the human brain and that extracellular fluid levels of lactate, lactate/pyruvate ratio, glucose, hypoxanthine, and glutamate are useful markers of disturbances in brain energy metabolism in neurointensive care patients. These results have generated a working hypothesis that the pattern of these extracellular markers may help differentiate between various causes of energy perturbations, such as hypoxia and different degrees of ischemia. The correlation between the dialysate levels of excitatory amino acids and outcome supports the concept of glutamate receptor overactivation in acute human brain injury.