The effects of the gamma-aminobutyric acid antagonist, pentylenetetrazol (PTZ), on recovery from somatosensory and motor asymmetries after unilateral sensorimotor cortex lesions were investigated. Behavior was assessed using a bilateral tactile stimulation test and a measure of forelimb motor coordination. Immediately after surgery, the PTZ-treated and saline (SAL) control groups both exhibited severe ipsilateral behavioral asymmetries. Rats receiving PTZ recovered significantly faster from somatosensory asymmetry than those receiving SAL. Recovery was complete in the PTZ group within 3 postoperative weeks, while the SAL group failed to reach a comparable level until 2 months after surgery. There was no difference between PTZ and SAL groups on recovery of forelimb motor coordination. No difference in lesion size between the SAL and the PTZ groups could be found. These data are consistent with the hypothesis that post-traumatic neuronal depression may contribute to the severity of sensorimotor deficits observed after brain damage.