Rats were deprived of sleep for 96 h by the platform technique and total glutathione (GSHtau) levels were measured in seven different brain areas. Glutathione levels were found to be significantly reduced in the hypothalamus of sleep-deprived animals when compared with large platform (-18%) or home cage (-31%) controls. Deprived rats also had reduced GSHtau levels in thalamus compared with home cage controls only. Glutathione levels did not differ among the three groups in any of the other brain areas examined. These results indicate that specific brain areas may be differentially susceptible to oxidative stress after sleep deprivation. The apparent vulnerability of the hypothalamus to these effects may contribute to some of the functional effects of sleep deprivation.