The effects of gastrin-releasing peptide (GRP) on the circadian clock in the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) are dependent on the activation of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptors in the SCN. In this study, the interaction between GRP, glutamate and serotonin in the regulation of circadian phase in Syrian hamsters was evaluated. Microinjection of GRP into the third ventricle induced c-fos and p-ERK expression throughout the SCN. Coadministration of an NMDA antagonist or 8-hydroxy-2-di-n-propylamino-tetralin [a serotonin (5-HT)1A,7 agonist, DPAT] with GRP limited c-fos expression in the SCN to a region dorsal to GRP cell bodies. Similar to the effects of NMDA antagonists, DPAT attenuated GRP-induced phase shifts in the early night, suggesting that the actions of serotonin on the photic phase shifting mechanism occur downstream from retinorecipient cells. c-fos and p-ERK immunoreactivity in the supraoptic (SON) and paraventricular hypothalamic nuclei also increased following ventricular microinjection of GRP. Because of this finding, a second set of experiments was designed to test a potential role for the SON in the regulation of clock function. Syrian hamsters were given microinjections of GRP into the peri-SON during the early night. GRP-induced c-fos activity in the SCN was similar to that following ventricular administration of GRP. GRP or bicuculline (a γ-aminobutyric acidA antagonist) administered near the SON during the early night elicited phase delays of circadian activity rhythms. These data suggest that GRP-induced phase-resetting is dependent on levels of glutamatergic and serotonergic neurotransmission in the SCN and implicate activity in the SON as a potential regulator of photic signaling in the SCN.