The possible localization of cannabinoid (CB) receptors to glutamatergic and GABAergic synaptic terminals impinging upon GABAergic interneurons in the CA1 region of the rat hippocampus was examined using the electrophysiological measurement of neurotransmitter release in brain slices. Whereas activation of cannabinoid receptors via the application of the cannabinoid agonist WIN55,212-2 significantly and dose-dependently reduced evoked IPSCs recorded from interneurons possessing somata located in the stratum radiatum (S.R.) and stratum oriens (S.O.) lamellae, evoked glutamatergic EPSCs were unaffected in both neuronal populations. However, in agreement with previous reports, WIN55,212-2 significantly reduced EPSCs recorded from CA1 pyramidal neurons. Additional experiments confirmed that the effects of WIN55,212-2 on IPSCs were presynaptic and that they could be blocked by the CB1 receptor antagonist SR141716A. The involvement of endogenous cannabinoids in the presynaptic inhibition of GABA release was also examined in the interneurons and pyramidal cells using a depolarization-induced suppression of inhibition (DSI) paradigm. DSI was observed in CA1 pyramidal neurons under control conditions, and its incidence was greatly increased by the cholinergic agonist carbachol. However, DSI was not observed in the S.R. or S.O. interneuron populations, in either the presence or absence of carbachol. Whereas DSI was not present in these interneurons, the inhibitory inputs to these cells were modulated by the synthetic cannabinoid WIN55,212-2. These data support the hypothesis that cannabinoid receptors are located on inhibitory, but not excitatory, axon terminals impinging upon hippocampal interneurons, and that CA1 pyramidal neurons, and not interneurons, are capable of generating endogenous cannabinoids during prolonged states of depolarization.