gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA)-containing elements have been studied by light and electron microscopy in the rat spinal cord, using immunocytochemistry with anti-GABA antibodies. Light microscopy showed immunoreactive somata localized principally in laminae I-III, and occasionally in the deeper laminae of the dorsal horn and in the ventral horn. Small somata were also observed around the central canal. Punctate GABA-immunoreactive profiles were particularly concentrated in laminae I-III, and moderately abundant in the deeper laminae and in the ventral horn where they were observed surrounding the unlabelled motoneurons. At the ultrastructural level, the punctate profiles corresponded to GABA-containing axonal varicosities or small dendrites. GABA-immunoreactive varicosities were presynaptic to labelled or unlabelled dendrites and cell bodies. Some unlabelled terminals presynaptic to unlabelled dendrites received symmetrical synaptic contacts from GABA-immunoreactive terminals. These results confirm data obtained with L-glutamate decarboxylase immunocytochemistry, and support the role of GABA in pre- and postsynaptic inhibition in the spinal cord, respectively via axoaxonal and axosomatic or axodendritic synapses.