Astrocytes are important in regulating the microenvironment of neurons both by catabolic and synthetic pathways. The glutamine synthetase (GS) activity observed in astrocytes affects neurons by removing toxic substances, NH3 and glutamate; and by providing an important neuronal substrate, glutamine. This glutamate cycle might play a critical role during periods of hypoxia and ischemia, when an increase in extracellular excitatory amino acids is observed. It was previously shown in our laboratory that fructose-1,6-bisphosphate (FBP) protected cortical astrocyte cultures from hypoxic insult and reduced ATP loss following a prolonged (18-30 hrs) hypoxia. In the present study we established the effects of FBP on the level of glutamate uptake and GS activity under normoxic and hypoxic conditions. Under normoxic conditions, [U-14C]glutamate uptake and glutamine production were independent of FBP treatment; whereas under hypoxic conditions, the initial increase in glutamate uptake and an overall increase in glutamine production in astrocytes were FBP-dependent. Glutamine synthetase activity was dependent on FBP added during the 22 hours of either normoxic- or hypoxic-treatment, hence significant increases in activity were observed due to FBP regardless of the oxygen/ATP levels in situ. These studies suggest that activation of GS by FBP may provide astrocytic protection against hypoxic injury.