Blockade of GABAergic inhibition in the region of the anterior basolateral amygdala (BLA) of rats elicits physiologic changes associated with a defense reaction. The present study was undertaken to determine whether GABA receptors in the BLA might be involved in regulating experimental anxiety using the social interaction (SI) and conflict test. Guide cannulae were stereotaxically implanted bilaterally in the BLA of rats for intracerebral microinjections. In the BLA, injection of the GABAA receptor antagonists bicuculline methiodide (BMI) and picrotoxin (PIC) produced anxiogenic-like effects in the SI paradigm, as did BMI injection using the conflict paradigm. Injection of the GABAA agonist muscimol (MUS) into the central nucleus of the amygdala (Ce) produced anxiolytic-like effects in the SI test. Microinjection of MUS, baclofen (GABAB agonist), 2OH-saclofen (GABAB antagonist) or strychnine (glycine antagonist) into the BLA or BMI into the Ce elicited no change in experimental anxiety as measured by the SI test. These results suggest that endogenous GABA acts tonically at GABAA receptors in the BLA to inhibit anxiety responses.