A quantitative autoradiographic study was made on the binding of the phosphatidylinositol system ligand [3H]inositol(1,4,5)-triphosphate (IP3) to forebrain sections from electroconvulsive shock (ECS)-treated rats. One group of rats was sacrificed 1 day and 1 month, respectively, after 12 ECSs administered three times weekly for 4 weeks. SHAM-stimulated rats served as controls. A single ECS did not change the [3H]IP3 binding in any of the brain regions examined. One day after the last of 12 ECSs, a decrease in [3H]IP3 binding (21%) was found within the CA1 region of the hippocampus and the piriform cortex (39%). In rats sacrificed 1 month after the last of 12 ECSs, the [3H]IP3 binding in piriform cortex had returned to control level. In the CA1 region of the hippocampus, the binding was still decreased (24%). It is possible that changes in the phosphatidylinositol system may play a part in the neurobiological events responsible for the therapeutic effect of electroconvulsive therapy.