Intracellular recordings were made from slices of adult and neonatal hippocampal neurons. During the first 2 weeks of life the majority of pyramidal cells exhibited spontaneous gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA)-mediated synaptic potentials, which were depolarizing at birth and became hyperpolarizing by the end of the first postnatal week. These synaptic potentials were reduced in frequency or blocked by the N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist d(-)2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate (AP-5, 50 μM) (13/15 cells). The non-NMDA antagonist, 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (CNQX, 5–10μM) abolished the GABA-mediated synaptic potentials in all the cells tested (n= 12), Superfusion of l-glutamate (up to 100 μM) increased the frequency of both depolarizing and hyperpolarizing GABA-mediated synaptic potentials. This effect was reduced by AP-5 or dl-2-amino-7-phosphonoheptanoate (AP-7, 50 μM) and fully blocked by concomitant application of AP-5 (50 μM) and CNQX (5–10 μM). NMDA (0.5–2 μM) increased the frequency of the GABA-mediated synaptic potentials. These effects were blocked by AP-5 (50 μM) and by bicuculline (10 μM). Quisqualate (100–300 nM), (RS)-alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-izopropionate (AMPA, 100–300 nM) and kainate (100 nM) also increased the frequency of the GABA-mediated synaptic potentials. These effects were blocked by CNQX (5–10 μM) and by bicuculline (10 μM) but not by AP-5 (50 μM). In the presence of tetrodotoxin (TTX, 1 μM), quisqualate (up to 300 nM), AMPA (up to 500 nM) and kainate (100 nM) had no effect on membrane potential or input resistance. In conclusion, our experiments suggest that, in early postnatal life, NMDA and non-NMDA receptors located on GABAergic interneurons modulate GABAergic synaptic potentials.