We aimed at characterizing the neural correlates of delta activity during Non Rapid Eye Movement (NREM) sleep in non-sleep-deprived normal young adults, based on the statistical analysis of a positron emission tomography (PET) sleep data set. One hundred fifteen PET scans were obtained using H(2)(15)O under continuous polygraphic monitoring during stages 2-4 of NREM sleep. Correlations between regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) and delta power (1.5-4 Hz) spectral density were analyzed using statistical parametric mapping (SPM2). Delta power values obtained at central scalp locations negatively correlated during NREM sleep with rCBF in the ventromedial prefrontal cortex, the basal forebrain, the striatum, the anterior insula, and the precuneus. These regions embrace the set of brain areas in which rCBF decreases during slow wave sleep (SWS) as compared to Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep and wakefulness (Maquet, P., Degueldre, C., Delfiore, G., Aerts, J., Peters, J.M., Luxen, A., Franck, G., 1997. Functional neuroanatomy of human slow wave sleep. J. Neurosci. 17, 2807-S2812), supporting the notion that delta activity is a valuable prominent feature of NREM sleep. A strong association was observed between rCBF in the ventromedial prefrontal regions and delta power, in agreement with electrophysiological studies. In contrast to the results of a previous PET study investigating the brain correlates of delta activity (Hofle, N., Paus, T., Reutens, D., Fiset, P., Gotman, J., Evans, A.C., Jones, B.E., 1997. Regional cerebral blood flow changes as a function of delta and spindle activity during slow wave sleep in humans. J. Neurosci. 17, 4800-4808), in which waking scans were mixed with NREM sleep scans, no correlation was found with thalamus activity. This latter result stresses the importance of an extra-thalamic delta rhythm among the synchronous NREM sleep oscillations. Consequently, this rCBF distribution might preferentially reflect a particular modulation of the cellular processes involved in the generation of cortical delta waves during NREM sleep.