Ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) is considered the rate-limiting enzyme in polyamine biosynthesis. An increase in putrescine (a natural polyamine) synthesis after central nervous system (CNS) injury appears to be involved in blood-brain barrier dysfunction, development of vasogenic edema and neuronal death. An improved method is described to determine the ODC activity as well as polyamine levels from the same brain tissue. The polyamine results showed no significant differences from data obtained with the conventional assay. The advantages of this method are to: (1) minimize the number of animals needed for the study, and (2) eliminate any internal inconsistencies resulting from use of two independent groups of animals for ODC and polyamine measurements. Using this method, ODC activities and polyamine levels were measured in cortices and hippocampi from global transient ischemia of gerbils and traumatic brain injury (TBI) of rats.