The phosphorylation of 2-deoxyglucose by the mammalian brain is used as an index of the brain's energy metabolism. The results of phosphorus-31 nuclear magnetic resonance (31P NMR) monitoring of conscious animals in vivo showed rapid phosphorylation of 2-deoxyglucose by brain tissue. The rate of phosphorylation as determined by 31P NMR was consistent with results achieved by tracer methods using carbon-14-labeled 2-deoxyglucose. However, the disappearance of 2-deoxyglucose-6-phosphate was shown to be faster than that reported by tracer studies and occurred without alterations of intracellular pH and energy homeostasis. These results were confirmed by gas chromatography and mass spectroscopy. It is postulated that 2-deoxyglucose may be metabolized in several ways, including dephosphorylation by a hexose phosphatase.