Hyperglycemia before ischemia worsens cerebral outcome. The aim of this study was to determine the cerebral effects of giving glucose with or without insulin after asphyxial cardiac arrest. Rats underwent 8 min of asphyxial cardiac arrest. After arrest, Group 1 received NaCl; Group 2, insulin; Group 3, glucose; and Group 4, glucose plus insulin, all intravenously. Neurological deficit (ND) scores were 14+/-10%, 22+/-12%, 12+/-10% and 2+/-2% in Groups 1-4, respectively, 72 h after reperfusion. Overall histological damage (HD) scores were 4, 2, 3 and 1, respectively. Group 4 fared significantly better than group 1 on both scores. Glucose after asphyxial cardiac arrest in rats produces no increased brain damage while glucose plus insulin improves cerebral outcome.