Abstract Neurological improvement in braintumor patients treated with dexamethasone (DEX) precedes a reduction in peritumor brain edema. In the study reported here, levels of noradrenaline (NA), dopamine (DA) and 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT), homovanillic acid (HVA) and 5-hydroxyindole-3-acetic acid (5-HIAA) and tissue water content were measured in grey and white matter adjacent to a 9L glioma in the cat to study DEX-neurotransmitter interactions as possible mechanisms for the acute neurological effects of DEX. Tumor-bearing and control cats were treated or not treated with DEX (0.25 mg/kg IV, 0.25 mg/kg IM) with 0.25 mg/kg IM repeated once (DEX 1) or 3 times (DEX 2) 6 hr apart. In control animals DEX 1 treatment led to significant decreases in concentration of DOPAC; DEX 2 treatment led to increases in HVA and 5-HIAA. Peritumor grey matter from untreated tumor-bearing animals had decreased levels of NA and DA and the metabolite DOPAC with no changes in 5-HT and 5-HIAA. DEX 2 but not DEX 1 resulted in a normalization (increase) in peritumor levels of DA and DOPAC. Neither dose of DEX reduced white matter edema. These findings suggest that the acute beneficial effect of DEX on neurological status may be due to alleviation of neurotransmitter amine and metabolite depletion.