A new strategy for measurement of brain catecholamines was tested in an animal model. [3H]Norepinephrine was infused intravenously in rabbits to label the peripheral norepinephrine pools. The specific activity of urinary 3-methoxy-4-hydroxymandelic acid was consistently higher than that for 3-methoxy-4-hydroxyphenyglycol (MHPG). Central sympathectomy with 6-hydroxydopamine abolished this difference. Using the formula we propose, it is estimated that 30-50% of urinary MHPG originates from the central nervous system.