The perifornical-lateral hypothalamic area is implicated in regulating waking and paradoxical sleep. The blockade of GABAA receptors by iontophoretic applications of bicuculline (or gabazine) into the perifornical-lateral hypothalamic area induced a continuous quiet waking state associated to a robust muscle tone in head-restrained rats. During the effects, sleep was totally suppressed. In rats killed at the end of a 90 min ejection of bicuculline, Fos expression was induced in approximately 28% of the neurons immunoreactive for hypocretin and in approximately 3% of the neurons immunostained for melanin-concentrating hormone within the ejection site. These results suggest that neurons containing melanin-concentrating hormone are not active during waking and that the lack of a potent GABAergic influence during waking is consistent with their role in sleep regulation.