Stimulation around the superior cerebellar peduncle or within the deep cerebellar nuclei is known to inhibit the inferior olive with a very long latency. It has been suggested that this inhibition is mediated by the GABA-ergic nucleo-olivary pathway, but alternative explanations such as activation of an indirect excitatory pathway or a pathway via the red nucleus are possible. A long-latency inhibition via the nucleo-olivary pathway would have profound implications for cerebellar function and the present study was performed to test alternative explanations and to characterize the nucleo-olivary inhibition. Climbing fibre responses (CFRs), evoked by periorbital stimulation and recorded from the cerebellar cortex, could be inhibited by stimulation of two distinct mesencephalic areas. One was located within the superior cerebellar peduncle and the other about 1 mm further ventrally. Inhibition evoked from either area occurred in the inferior olive and was independent of a red nucleus relay. Single Purkinje cell recordings revealed that inhibition from the ventral area was not secondary to olivary activation. It is concluded that stimulation of the ventral area activated nucleo-olivary fibres. The inhibition elicited by stimulation within the peduncle probably resulted from indirect activation on the nucleo-olivary fibres via antidromic activation of the interpositus nucleus. The time courses of the inhibition from the two areas were indistinguishable. The duration of the strongest inhibition was short and had a sharp peak at about 30 ms. It is suggested that the time course of the inhibition is important for temporal regulation of learned responses.