Drugs of abuse, such as amphetamine and morphine, produce reward-related shifts on intracranial self-stimulation (ICSS) thresholds. The facilitatory effects on ICSS thresholds of drugs that act through the GABAergic system, however, are reported to be attributed to their antiseizure and anticonvulsant effects, rather than their reinforcing effects. Using a rate-frequency ICSS paradigm, we examined the effects of amphetamine (a reinforcing drug of abuse that acts via the catecholaminergic system), pentobarbital (a GABA(A) receptor agonist and reinforcing barbiturate with anticonvulsant properties), and gabapentin (a nonspecific GABAergic agonist and anticonvulsant with low abuse potential) on ICSS M(50) indices. All three doses of amphetamine (0.5, 1.0, and 2.0 mg/kg) and pentobarbital (2.5, 5.0, and 10.0 mg/kg) significantly lowered rate-frequency M(50) values. Gabapentin, on the other hand, significantly raised rate-frequency M(50) values, albeit only at the highest dose administered (30 mg/kg). Our results indicate that shifts in ICSS M(50) values produced by pentobarbital are associated with the reinforcing, not the anticonvulsant, effect of pentobarbital. These results are consistent with the view that there is a common system underlying the reinforcing effects of drugs and ICSS reinforcement, and suggest that the reinforcing and anticonvulsant effects of GABA agonists are dissociable.