During starvation, brain energy metabolism in humans changes toward oxidation of ketone bodies. To investigate if this shift is directly coupled to circulating blood concentrations of ketone bodies, we measured global cerebral blood flow (CBF) and global cerebral carbohydrate metabolism with the Kety-Schmidt technique before and during intravenous infusion with ketone bodies. During acute hyperketonemia (mean beta-hydroxybutyrate blood concentration 2.16 mM), cerebral uptake of ketones increased from 1.11 to 5.60 mumol.100 g-1.min-1, counterbalanced by an equivalent reduction of the cerebral glucose metabolism from 25.8 to 17.2 mumol.100 g-1.min-1, with the net result being an unchanged cerebral uptake of carbohydrates. In accordance with this, global cerebral oxygen metabolism was not significantly altered (144 vs. 135 mumol.100 g-1.min-1). The unchanged global cerebral metabolic activity was accompanied by a 39% increase in CBF from 51.0 to 70.9 ml.100 g-1.min-1. Regional analysis of the glucose metabolism by positron emission tomography-[18F]fluoro-2-deoxy-D-glucose indicated that mesencephalon does not oxidize ketone bodies to the same extent as the rest of the brain. It was concluded that the immediate oxidation of ketone bodies induced a decrease in cerebral glucose uptake in spite of an adequate glucose supply to the brain. Furthermore, acute hyperketonemia caused a resetting of the coupling between CBF and metabolism that could not be explained by alterations in arterial CO2 tension or pH.