In calves aged two to five months, throat cutting resulted in an increase in the concentration of the amino acid neurotransmitters glutamate and aspartate in the brain. Electrical head-only stunning by itself also increased the concentrations of these two neurotransmitters. The levels induced by stunning resulted in a seizure state characterised by epileptiform-like activity in the electroencephalograph. Combing head-only stunning with throat cutting within 10 seconds of the stun had a synergistic effect upon glutamate and aspartate, increasing their concentration by a greater amount and more quickly than either procedure on its own. An irreversible loss of brain function also occurred more quickly than after throat cutting alone. The administration of glutamate and aspartate receptor antagonists before the throat cutting lengthened the time to the loss of brain function in a dose dependent manner. Similar changes were observed in sheep but they occurred much more quickly than in cattle.