gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a major inhibitory neurotransmitter, synthesised from glutamate by glutamate decarboxylase (GAD), in the central nervous system. Two forms of GAD, designated GAD 65 and GAD 67, are encoded by distinct genes and have been demonstrated in the mammalian brain. GABA. has been postulated to be synthesised in neurons of the enteric nervous system (ENS), but evidence for its role as an enteric neurotransmitter is equivocal. We therefore aimed to determine whether GAD 65 and GAD 67 messenger RNAs (mRNAs) and proteins were expressed in the ileum of mice, rats and guinea pigs. Using an RNase protection assay, both GAD 65 and GAD 67 mRNAs were detected in the rodent small intestine. Antisera specific for GAD 65 or GAD 67, used in immunoblot analyses, revealed GAD 65-like and GAD 67-like immunoreactivity in rat and guinea pig ileum. Anti-GAD 65 antisera detected a major band of 65 kDa. Anti-GAD 67 antisera detected a major band of 55 kDa, which probably represented a breakdown product, and a minor band of 67 kDa. Analysis of immunoblot extracts of rat and guinea pig ileum revealed more GAD 67-like than GAD 65-like immunoreactivity. GAD enzymatic activity was high in the rat and guinea-pig brain, and low in the whole and dissected ileum. These results demonstrate that both GAD 65 and GAD 67 genes are transcribed and translated in the ileum of three rodent species and lend indirect support to the postulate that GABA is synthesised by neurons of the ENS and intestinal endocrine cells.