Glucocorticoids secreted in response to stress activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis feed back onto the brain to rapidly suppress neuroendocrine activation, including oxytocin and vasopressin secretion. Here we show using whole-cell patch clamp recordings that glucocorticoids elicit a rapid, opposing action on synaptic glutamate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) release onto magnocellular neurons of the hypothalamic supraoptic nucleus and paraventricular nucleus, suppressing glutamate release and facilitating GABA release by activating a putative membrane receptor. The glucocorticoid effect on both glutamate and GABA release was blocked by inhibiting postsynaptic G protein activity, suggesting a dependence on postsynaptic G protein signaling and the involvement of a retrograde messenger. Biochemical analysis of hypothalamic slices treated with dexamethasone revealed a glucocorticoid-induced rapid increase in the levels of the endocannabinoids anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG). The glucocorticoid suppression of glutamate release was blocked by the type I cannabinoid receptor cannabinoid receptor antagonist, AM251, and was mimicked and occluded by AEA and 2-AG, suggesting it was mediated by retrograde endocannabinoid release. The glucocorticoid facilitation of GABA release was also blocked by AM251 but was not mimicked by AEA, 2-AG, or a synthetic cannabinoid, WIN 55,212-2, nor was it blocked by vanilloid or ionotropic glutamate receptor antagonists, suggesting that it was mediated by a retrograde messenger acting at an AM251-sensitive, noncannabinoid/nonvanilloid receptor at presynaptic GABA terminals. The combined, opposing actions of glucocorticoids mediate a rapid inhibition of the magnocellular neuroendocrine cells, which in turn should mediate rapid feedback inhibition of the secretion of oxytocin and vasopressin by glucocorticoids during stress activation of the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.