Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of glutamate and gamma- aminobutyric acid (GABA), as estimates of levels in the extracellular compartment of brain, were determined in 7-day postnatal rats at the terminus of hypoxia-ischemia and during status epilepticus, induced with bicuculline, at 2 and 24 h of recovery. Hypoxia-ischemia was associated with increased CSF glutamate, which was not increased further during status epilepticus. In contrast, CSF GABA was increased by hypoxia-ischemia as well as by status epilepticus during recovery. CSF glutamate/GABA ratios in rat pups subjected to status epilepticus with or without prior hypoxia-ischemia were lower than control animals during recovery. The lack of any significant increase in glutamate or in the glutamate/GABA ratio during status epilepticus would preclude any neuronal injury from occurring in those immature rats sustaining seizures alone or any accentuation of brain damage in those animals subjected to prior cerebral hypoxia-ischemia.