Fluctuating neurosteroid levels over the ovarian cycle modulate neuronal excitability through effects on GABA(A) receptors (GABA(A)Rs). The large increase in progesterone-derived neurosteroids during pregnancy and their precipitous decline at parturition may have considerable effects on GABA(A)Rs during pregnancy and postpartum. Here we show a significant decrease in tonic and phasic inhibitions in pregnant mice, mediated by a downregulation of GABA(A)R delta and gamma2 subunits, respectively, which rebounds immediately postpartum. Mice which do not exhibit GABA(A)R delta subunit regulation throughout pregnancy (Gabrd(+/-) and Gabrd(-/-)) exhibit depression-like and abnormal maternal behaviors, resulting in reduced pup survival. These abnormal postpartum behaviors were ameliorated in Gabrd(+/-) mice by a GABA(A)R delta-subunit-selective agonist, THIP. We suggest that Gabrd(+/-) and Gabrd(-/-) mice constitute a mouse model of postpartum depression that may be useful for evaluating potential therapeutic interventions.