1. Extracellular 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) was determined in dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN), median raphe nucleus (MRN) and nucleus accumbens by use of microdialysis in unanaesthetized rats. 2. Infusion of the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)A receptor agonist muscimol into DRN and MRN resulted in decreased 5-HT in DRN and MRN, respectively. Muscimol infusion into nucleus accumbens had no effect on 5-HT. 3. Infusion of the GABAA receptor antagonist bicuculline into DRN resulted in increased DRN and nucleus accumbens 5-HT. Bicuculline infusion into MRN had no effect on 5-HT. This suggests that endogenous GABA had a tonic, GABAA receptor-mediated inhibitory effect on 5-HT in DRN, but not in MRN. 4. Infusion of the GABAB receptor agonist baclofen into DRN produced a decrease in DRN 5-HT. Baclofen infusion into nucleus accumbens resulted in decreased nucleus accumbens 5-HT. This suggests that GABAB receptors are present in the area of cell bodies and terminals of 5-hydroxytryptaminergic neurones. 5. Infusion of the GABAB receptor antagonists phaclofen and 2-hydroxysaclofen had no effect on midbrain raphe and forebrain 5-HT. This suggests that GABAB receptors did not contribute to tonic inhibition of 5-HT release. 6. In conclusion, 5-HT release is physiologically regulated by distinct subtypes of GABA receptors in presynaptic and postsynaptic sites.