The distribution of Ca2+-binding protein, parvalbumin (PV), containing neurons and their colocalization with glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) were studied in the rat hippocampus and dentate gyrus using immunohistochemistry. PV immunoreactive (PV-I) perikarya were concentrated in the granule cell layer and hilus in the dentate gyrus and in the stratum pyramidale and stratum oriens in the CA3 and CA1 regions of the hippocampus. They were rare in the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus, in the stratum radiatum and in the stratum lacunosum-moleculare of the hippocampus. PV-I axon terminals were restricted to the granule cell layer, the stratum pyramidale and the immediately adjoining zones of these layers. Almost all PV-I neurons were also GAD immunoreactive (GAD-I), whereas only about 20% of GAD-I neurons also contained PV. The percentages of GAD-I neurons which were also immunoreactive for PV were dependent on the layer in which they were found; i.e. 40-50% in the stratum pyramidale, 20-30% in the dentate granule cell layer and in the stratum oriens of the CA3 and CA1 regions, 15-20% in the hilus and in the stratum lucidum of CA3 region and only 1-4% in the dentate molecular layer and in the stratum radiatum and the stratum lacunosum-moleculare of the CA3 and CA1 regions. PV-I neurons are a particular subpopulation of GABAergic neurons in the hippocampal formation. Based on their morphology and laminar distribution, they probably include basket cells and axo-axonic cells.