Chronic stress is linked to development of depression and may trigger neurobiological changes underlying the disease. Downregulation of the secretory peptide brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and the transcriptional regulator calcium/cyclic-AMP responsive binding protein (CREB) have been implicated in stress and depression-related pathology in animal studies. When animals are exposed to the chronic mild stress (CMS) protocol, multiple depression-like symptoms are observed. Here we investigated the effect of CMS on BDNF protein expression and CREB activation in the dentate gyrus and hippocampus proper. Rats exposed for 5 weeks to repeated, unpredictable, mild stressors showed reduced BDNF expression and inhibited phosphorylation of CREB (Ser-133) in the dentate gyrus (-25.0%+/-3.5% and -29.7+/-7.3%, respectively), whereas no significant effects were observed in the hippocampus proper. CMS-treated rats consumed less sucrose compared to control rats, indicating a state of anhedonia. Moreover, phospho-CREB levels in the dentate gyrus were positively correlated with the animals' sucrose intake at the end of the CMS protocol. These results couple chronic mild stress to a downregulation of CREB activity and BDNF protein expression specifically within the dentate gyrus and support the possibility that the BDNF-CREB system plays an important role in the response to environmental challenges.