Abstract Energetic ion ( E ⩾ 290 keV) and electron ( E e ⩾ 220 keV) burst intensities were simultaneously monitored at various regions of the plasma sheet and magnetosheath by the CPME JHU/APL instruments on board the IMP-7 and 8 s/c during an extended period from day 250, 1975 to day 250, 1976 when the two spacecraft were closely trailing each other in crossing the geomagnetotail. The energy spectra of the energetic particle populations of different regions in the magnetotail were also computed and monitored simultaneously at the positions of the two spacecraft. The results indicate that the energetic particle intensities are higher and the energy spectra in general considerably softer inside the plasma sheet than the adjacent magnetosheath. The spectral index γ of a power law fit in the computed energy spectrum inside the plasma sheet occasionally exceeds γ > 10 for the ions and γ > 6 for the electrons. Furthermore simultaneous monitoring of particle intensities in the vicinity of the neutral sheet and the high latitude plasma sheet shows higher intensities in the former region. The observations suggest that the energetic particles escape to the magnetosheath from their source inside the plasma sheet by a rigidity dependent process. A dawn-dusk asymmetry in the particle acceleration and escape processes is implied in the observations and discussed in detail.