The laterodorsal and pedunculopontine tegmental nuclei (LDT-PPT) are involved in the generation of active sleep (AS; also called REM or rapid eye movement sleep). Although the LDT-PPT are composed principally of cholinergic neurons that participate in the control of sleep and waking states, the function of the large number of GABAergic neurons that are also located in the LDT-PPT is unknown. Consequently, we sought to determine if these neurons are activated (as indicated by their c-fos expression) during active sleep induced by the microinjection of carbachol into the rostro-dorsal pons (AS-carbachol). Accordingly, immunocytochemical double-labeling techniques were used to identify GABA and Fos protein, as well as choline acetyltransferase (ChAT), in histological sections of the LDT-PPT. Compared to control awake cats, there was a larger number of GABAergic neurons that expressed c-fos during AS-carbachol (31.5+/-6.1 vs. 112+/-15.2, P<0.005). This increase in the number of GABA+Fos+ neurons occurred on the ipsilateral side relative to the injection site; there was a small decrease in GABA+Fos+ cells in the contralateral LDT-PPT. However, the LDT-PPT neurons that exhibited the largest increase in c-fos expression during AS-carbachol were neither GABA+ nor ChAT+ (47+/-22.5 vs. 228.7+/-14.0, P<0.0005). The number of cholinergic neurons that expressed c-fos during AS-carbachol was not significantly different compared to wakefulness. These data demonstrate that, during AS-carbachol, GABAergic as well as an unidentified population of neurons are activated in the LDT-PPT. We propose that these non-cholinergic LDT-PPT neurons may participate in the regulation of active sleep.