Limbic dysfunction and hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) axis dysregulation are key features of affective disorders. The following review summarizes our current understanding of the relationship between limbic structures and control of ACTH and glucocorticoid release, focusing on the hippocampus, medial prefrontal cortex and amygdala. In general, the hippocampus and anterior cingulate/prelimbic cortex inhibit stress-induced HPA activation, whereas the amygdala and perhaps the infralimbic cortex may enhance glucocorticoid secretion. Several characteristics of limbic-HPA interaction are notable: first, in all cases, the role of given limbic structures is both region- and stimulus-specific. Second, limbic sites have minimal direct projections to HPA effector neurons of the paraventricular nucleus (PVN); hippocampal, cortical and amygdalar efferents apparently relay with neurons in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, hypothalamus and brainstem to access corticotropin releasing hormone neurons. Third, hippocampal, cortical and amygdalar projection pathways show extensive overlap in regions such as the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis, hypothalamus and perhaps brainstem, implying that limbic information may be integrated at subcortical relay sites prior to accessing the PVN. Fourth, these limbic sites also show divergent projections, with the various structures having distinct subcortical targets. Finally, all regions express both glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors, allowing for glucocorticoid modulation of limbic signaling patterns. Overall, the influence of the limbic system on the HPA axis is likely the end result of the overall patterning of responses to given stimuli and glucocorticoids, with the magnitude of the secretory response determined with respect to the relative contributions of the various structures.