The anatomical localization of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), the synthesizing enzyme for GABA, was analyzed in the brainstem auditory nuclei of the adult gerbil. GAD-positive terminals and somata were present in the cochlear nucleus, superior olivary complex, lateral lemniscus, and inferior colliculus in varying concentrations and patterns. One of the highest densities of GAD-positive terminals is found in the superficial layers of the dorsal cochlear nucleus (DCN), whereas the ventral cochlear nucleus (VCN) has somewhat fewer terminals that are arranged in pericellular plexuses. GAD-positive neurons occur mainly in the superficial and fusiform layers of the DCN and are scattered throughout the VCN. Within the superior olivary complex, the highest concentration of immunoreactive terminals and neurons occurs in the ventral and lateral nuclei of the trapezoid body. In contrast, the medial nucleus of the trapezoid body and the medial superior olive contain fewer GAD-positive puncta and probably no immunoreactive somata. The lateral superior olive and superior periolivary nucleus contain a few immunoreactive puncta but a large number of immunoreactive somata. In the midbrain, the nuclei of the lateral lemniscus contain a moderate number of GAD-positive puncta and a large number of different types of GAD-positive neurons. The inferior colliculus also contains a heterogeneous population of labeled somata, most of which are multipolar neurons. In addition, a high concentration of immunoreactive puncta occurs in this region. These data demonstrate a diverse distribution of GAD-positive neurons and puncta throughout the brainstem auditory nuclei and suggest that GABA might be an important neurotransmitter in the processing of auditory information.