Rats with portocaval anastomosis (PCA), an animal model of hepatic encephalopathy (HE), have very high brain histamine concentrations. Our previous studies based on a biochemical approach indicated histamine accumulation in the neuronal compartment. In this study, immunohistochemical evidence is presented which further supports the amine localization in histaminergic neurons. These neurons become pathological in appearance with cisternae frequently seen along histaminergic fibres in many brain areas, including the hypothalamus, amygdala, substantia nigra and cerebral cortex. Such formations were not observed in sham-operated animals. The neuronal deposition is predominant, and unique for histamine. It serves as a mechanism to counterbalance excessive brain neurotransmitter formation evoked by PCA. However, there are other mechanisms. The data provided here show that there is also a significant increase in histamine catabolism in the shunted rats, as reflected by both the higher brain N-tele-methylhistamine (t-MeHA) concentration and urinary excretion of N-tele-methylimidazoleacetic acid (t-MelmAA), a major brain histamine end product. The stomach, in addition to the brain, is a site of enhanced histamine synthesis in portocavally shunted subjects. After gastrectomy or food deprivation to eliminate the contribution of the stomach, shunted rats excrete significantly more t-MelmAA, implying the role of the CNS. This last finding suggests that under strictly defined conditions, namely in parenterally fed HE patients with abnormal plasma L-histidine, the measurement of urinary t-MelmAA might provide valuable information concerning putative brain histaminergic activity.