Paradoxical sleep (PS) is a state characterized by cortical activation, rapid eye movements and muscle atonia. Fifty years after its discovery, the neuronal network responsible for the genesis of PS has been only partially identified. We recently proposed that GABAergic neurons would have a pivotal role in that network. To localize these GABAergic neurons, we combined immunohistochemical detection of Fos with non-radioactive in situ hybridization of GAD67 mRNA (GABA synthesis enzyme) in control rats, rats deprived of PS for 72 h and rats allowed to recover after such deprivation. Here we show that GABAergic neurons gating PS (PS-off neurons) are principally located in the ventrolateral periaqueductal gray (vlPAG) and the dorsal part of the deep mesencephalic reticular nucleus immediately ventral to it (dDpMe). Furthermore, iontophoretic application of muscimol for 20 min in this area in head-restrained rats induced a strong and significant increase in PS quantities compared to saline. In addition, we found a large number of GABAergic PS-on neurons in the vlPAG/dDPMe region and the medullary reticular nuclei known to generate muscle atonia during PS. Finally, we showed that PS-on neurons triggering PS localized in the SLD are not GABAergic. Altogether, our results indicate that multiple populations of PS-on GABAergic neurons are distributed in the brainstem while only one population of PS-off GABAergic neurons localized in the vlPAG/dDpMe region exist. From these results, we propose a revised model for PS control in which GABAergic PS-on and PS-off neurons localized in the vlPAG/dDPMe region play leading roles.