Using optimized administration of 13C-labeled glucose, the time course of the specific activity of glucose was measured directly by in vivo 13C-NMR in the human brain at 4 Tesla. Subsequent label incorporation was measured at the C2, C3 and C4 positions of both glutamate and the well-resolved C2, C3 and C4 resonances of glutamine and at the C2 and C3 positions of aspartate. GABA was clearly observed for the first time in vivo, suggesting a substantial GABA turnover in the normal human visual cortex. Likewise, lactate C3 labeled with an estimated active pool size on the order of 0.5 mM. A model of cerebral glutamate metabolism is proposed which predicts that glutamatergic action ('neurotransmission'), pyruvate carboxylase flux, TCA cycle activity, glucose consumption and exchange across the mitochondrial membrane can be assessed simultaneously in the human brain.