Changes in cortical extracellular potassium activity ([K+]0), NADH fluorescence, and oxygen consumption were studied in anesthetized cats during pentylenetetrazol seizures. The effects of partial ischemia induced by either hypotension or intermittent carotid artery occlusion on these parameters were investigated. Nonischemic seizures were characterized by gradual generalized decreases in cortical NADH fluorescence and increases in O2 consumption, along with rapid increases in [K+]0, which then usually fell slightly as the ictal discharge continued. Ischemic seizures, on the other hand, were accompanied by complex changes in NADH fluorescence, by smaller delayed maximal increases in O2 consumption that lasted beyond the end of ictal activity, and by more sustained increases in [K+]0. The decay of [K+]0 after the termination of seizures in both nonischemic and moderately ischemic animals was not a monoexponential function: plots of ln delta [K+]0 versus time showed an initial linear decline (of slope M1) that rather abruptly slowed (to slope M2) after 2 to 5 sec and then often increased to the original rate. Both M1 and M2 were proportionately decreased by ischemia. In addition, the rate of [K+]0 removal could be slowed by acute ischemia induced either during or after the end of ictal activity. The initial rate of postictal [K+]0 removal (M1) was found to be linearly and inversely related to the level of cortical NADH fluorescence at the time of seizure termination. The results of this study suggest that an O2-dependent transport mechanism plays a major role in the removal of [K+]0 during and following the termination of generalized pentylenetetrazol seizures in the cat.