GABAergic inhibitory mechanisms may offer protection to neurons after global ischemia. We tested the effects of gamma-vinyl GABA, a GABA-transaminase inhibitor, via continuous infusion in the third ventricle (Alza pumps) in a gerbil model of repetitive forebrain ischemia. We used two episodes of 3 min duration with a 'reperfusion' interval of 1 h between the insults. Histological analysis was done with silver staining 5 days after the insult. Our results show that there is significant protection of the hippocampus CA1 region and substantia nigra reticulata in treated animals compared to controls. An increase in GABA levels, decrease in glutamate, or mild hypothermia, may be potential mechanisms for this protection. GABAergic agents may prove useful agents in repetitive ischemia.