Spreading depolarization (SD), a pathologic feature of migraine, stroke and traumatic brain injury, is a propagating depolarization of neurons and glia causing profound metabolic demand. Adenosine, the low-energy metabolite of ATP, has been shown to be elevated after SD in brain slices and under conditions likely to trigger SD in vivo. The relationship between metabolic status and adenosine accumulation after SD was tested here, in brain slices and in vivo. In brain slices, metabolic impairment (assessed by nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (phosphate) autofluorescence and O2 availability) was associated with prolonged extracellular direct current (DC) shifts indicating delayed repolarization, and increased adenosine accumulation. In vivo, adenosine accumulation was observed after SD even in otherwise healthy mice. As in brain slices, in vivo adenosine accumulation correlated with DC shift duration and increased when DC shifts were prolonged by metabolic impairment (i.e., hypoglycemia or middle cerebral artery occlusion). A striking pattern of adenosine dynamics was observed during focal ischemic stroke, with nearly all the observed adenosine signals in the periinfarct region occurring in association with SDs. These findings suggest that adenosine accumulation could serve as a biomarker of SD incidence and severity, in a range of clinical conditions.