This article describes the occurrence of a bilaterally symmetrical encephalopathy in Sprague-Dawley rats, which occurred over the period 2005 to 2012 in our laboratory in both untreated control rats and rats treated with different pharmacologically active compounds. The acute brain lesions consisted of degeneration/necrosis in the ventral areas of the brain mostly with little inflammatory response; in the more rare chronic cases there were numerous lipid-laden macrophages. The areas most consistently affected were the crus cerebri, the ventral midbrain, the pyramids, and the internal capsule. Other areas less frequently affected were the mammillary bodies, the fimbria, the olfactory tubercles, the optic tracts, and the ventral hippocampus. All available data, including clinical signs, gross pathology, clinical pathology, diet, breeding, and housing were collected and are presented. Our investigations did not elucidate the pathogenesis of the lesions, although the infarction-type changes are suggestive of a vascular etiology. To our knowledge, this particular lesion with its consistent distribution pattern has not been reported in the rat literature and its publication is therefore important to the toxicological pathology community, because an unbalanced group distribution in a toxicology study could potentially confound the safety assessment of a compound.