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Sevoflurane and propofol are neuroprotective possibly by attenuating central or peripheral catecholamines. We evaluated the effect of these anesthetics on circulating catecholamines and brain neurotransmitters during ischemia in rats. Forty male Sprague-Dawley rats were randomly assigned to one of the following treatment groups: fentanyl and N2O/O2 (control), 2.0% sevoflurane, 0.8–1.2 mg · kg−1 · min−1 of propofol, and sham-operated rats with fentanyl and N2O/O2. Ischemia (30 min) was produced by unilateral common carotid artery occlusion plus hemorrhagic hypotension to a mean arterial blood pressure of 32 ± 2 mm Hg. Pericranial temperature, arterial blood gases, and pH value were maintained constant. Cerebral catecholamine and glutamate concentrations, sampled by microdialysis, and plasma catecholamine concentrations were analyzed using high-pressure liquid chromatography. During ischemia, circulating catecholamines were almost completely suppressed by propofol but only modestly decreased with sevoflurane. Sevoflurane and propofol suppressed brain norepinephrine concentration increases by 75% and 58%, respectively, compared with controls. Intra-ischemia cerebral glutamate concentration was decreased by 60% with both sevoflurane and propofol. These results question a role of circulating catecholamines as a common mechanism for cerebral protection during sevoflurane and propofol. A role of brain tissue catecholamines in mediating ischemic injury is consistent with our results.