Measurement of intrinsic optical signals (IOSs) is an attractive technique for monitoring tissue viability in brains since it enables noninvasive, real-time monitoring of morphological characteristics as well as physiological and biochemical characteristics of tissue. We previously showed that light scattering signals reflecting cellular morphological characteristics were closely related to the IOSs associated with the redox states of cytochrome c oxidase in the mitochondrial respiratory chain. In the present study, we examined the relationship between light scattering and energy metabolism. Light scattering signals were transcranially measured in rat brains after oxygen and glucose deprivation, and the results were compared with concentrations of cerebral adenosine triphosphate (ATP) measured by luciferin-luciferase bioluminescence assay. Electrophysiological signal was also recorded simultaneously. After starting saline infusion, EEG activity ceased at 108+/-17s, even after which both the light scattering signal and ATP concentration remained at initial levels. However, light scattering started to change in three phases at 236+/-15s and then cerebral ATP concentration started to decrease at about 260s. ATP concentration significantly decreased during the triphasic scattering change, indicating that the start of scattering change preceded the loss of cerebral ATP. The mean time difference between the start of triphasic scattering change and the onset of ATP loss was about 24s in the present model. DC potential measurement showed that the triphasic scattering change was associated with anoxic depolarization. These findings suggest that light scattering signal can be used as an indicator of loss of tissue viability in brains.