GABAergic neurons in the ventral mesodiencephalic region are highly important for the function of dopaminergic pathways that regulate multiple aspects of behavior. However, development of these neurons is poorly understood. We recently showed that molecular regulation of differentiation of the GABAergic neurons associated with the dopaminergic nuclei in the ventral midbrain (VTA and SNpr) is distinct from the rest of midbrain, but the reason for this difference remained elusive. Here, we have analyzed the developmental origin of the VTA and SNpr GABAergic neurons by genetic fate mapping. We demonstrate that the majority of these GABAergic neurons originate outside the midbrain, from rhombomere 1, and move into the ventral midbrain only as postmitotic neuronal precursors. We further show that Gata2, Gata3 and Tal1 define a subpopulation of GABAergic precursors in ventral rhombomere 1. A failure in GABAergic neuron differentiation in this region correlates with loss of VTA and SNpr GABAergic neurons in Tal1 mutant mice. In contrast to midbrain, GABAergic neurons of the anterior SNpr in the diencephalon are not derived from the rhombomere 1. These results suggest unique migratory pathways for the precursors of important GABAergic neuron subpopulations, and provide the basis for understanding diversity within midbrain GABAergic neurons.