In spontaneously diabetic BB rats, the effect of chronically maintained blood glucose levels on the degree of energy failure and brain pH change during an ischemic insult, and on subsequent recovery after reperfusion, was studied with in vivo 31P magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Short duration forebrain ischemia (10-min carotid occlusion plus hypotension of 50 mmHg) was induced in diabetic and nondiabetic male BB rats whose blood glucose levels were maintained with insulin. Spectra were obtained in 1-min blocks before, during, and for 1 h after ischemia. Before ischemia, hypoglycemic (blood glucose <3 mM) diabetic rats had an increased PI peak intensity, with no significant pH change, compared with other groups. During ischemia, the rate and extent of hydrolysis of high-energy phosphate metabolites (as measured by an increase in PI) decreased, and the severity of tissue acidosis increased as preischemia blood glucose concentration increased. Among hyperglycemic BB rats, similar ischemia-induced changes were found for subgroups with blood glucose levels of 13.7 ± 1.2 and 20.3 ± 0.6 mM, in keeping with the known decrease in hexose binding sites associated with chronic hyperglycemia. Decline in PCr level during ischemia was not significantly different between groups. With reperfusion, both PI and pH values rapidly returned to preischemia values. PCr levels, however, did not recover in hyperglycemic diabetic animals, with the degree of residual impairment dependent on the preischemia glucose level. Results suggest that optimal management of diabetes may lessen the degree of injury within the ischemic penumbra in diabetic patients who suffer a stroke.