We evaluated the effect of posthypoxic glucose supplement in a neonatal hypoxic-ischemic animal model. Seven-day-old rats underwent bilateral ligation of the carotid arteries, followed by exposure to an 8% oxygen atmosphere for 1 hour. The extent of hypoxic-ischemic brain damage was assessed histologically 72 hours later. Gulcose load immediately after the end of the hypoxic exposure reduced the volume of neocortical infarction to 37% of the unsupplemented value, and attenuated ischemic damage in the striatum and the dentate gyrus. At the end of the hypoxic exposure, the brain level of glucose was 0.3 mmol/kg and the level of lactate, 9 mmol/kg. Glucose supplement produced a rapid rise in brain glucose level to 3 to 5 mmol/kg over the next 2 hours. Lactate in both brain and plasma gradually fell toward the baseline level during the first hour of recovery. Posthypoxic glucose supplement slightly retarded lactate restitution. At any period of this neonatal model, brain lactate levels did not exceed the toxic level, which is postulated to be responsible for cerebral infarction in adult ischemic models. These results illustrate the important role of glucose in the development of neonatal hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy and the fact that full cortical infarction can develop even if brain lactate levels are low.