Lactate, pyruvate and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) concentrations in the brain were measured at the end of various periods of cerebral ischemia induced by bilateral carotid occlusion at 1-hour recirculation after the ischemia in spontaneously hypertensive rates (SHR). In both male and female SHR, a progressive and consistent increase in lactate and lactate/pyruvate ratio and a concomitant decrease in ATP were observed in the ischemic periods of 1, 3 or 5 h. Changes of these cerebral metabolites in females were two thirds to one half of those in males at corresponding periods of ischemia. At 1 h after recanalization of the occluded carotid arteries, metabolic derangements of the ischemic brain were little recovered in male SHR exposed to only 1-hour ischemia, whereas in female SHR the decreased ATP levels were recovered close to the nonischemic control level even after 7-hour ischemia. Furthermore, the increased lactate in female was attenuated to only one sixth of that in male at 1-hour recirculation after 5-hour ischemia. It is concluded that the recovery of the cerebral ischemic metabolism by reperfusion is better in female than male SHR, probably because of the smaller metabolic changes during the ischemic insult, and the fact that the degree as well as the duration of ischemia seem to be important factors for sufficient recovery from ischemic impairment of the brain.