The immortalized hypothalamic neuronal cell lines GT1-1 and GT1-7 represent unique model systems to investigate the physiological control of gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion. Using immunofluorescence microscopy, key proteins of regulated exocytosis, e.g. synaptotagmin, synaptobrevin and SNAP-25 (synaptosomal associated protein of 25 kDa) were found in GT1 neurons. In addition, GT1 neurons contained synaptophysin, a marker protein for small synaptic vesicles (SSVs) which are responsible for the storage of neurotransmitters such as gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Upon subcellular fractionation, a lighter vesicle population characterized by synaptophysin separated from a denser vesicle population containing GnRH. Both vesicle populations contained synaptobrevin and synaptotagmin. Besides GnRH, GT1 neurons expressed glutamic acid decarboxylase at the mRNA-level and synthesized GABA. More importantly, GT1 neurons took up and stored 3H-GABA. The stored GABA was released after stimulation with increasing K+ concentrations and by alpha-latrotoxin. Reducing the extracellular Ca2+-concentration abolished stimulated secretion, indicating that GABA was released by regulated exocytosis. Hormone secretion from GT1 neurons is controlled by GABA via GABA(A) and GABA(B) receptors reflecting the situation in vivo. Our data provide the first evidence that GT1 neurons possess a second regulated secretory pathway sustained by SSVs storing and releasing GABA. The released GABA influences GnRH secretion by an auto- or paracrine loop.