There is increasing evidence suggesting that the neurotransmitter γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) is a local factor involved in the regulation of endocrine organs. Examples of such functions are documented in the pancreas, but recent results suggest that GABA may act in a similar way in the pituitary, in which GABA receptors are expressed and pituitary growth hormone (GH) cells provide a source of GABA. We hypothesised that GABA secreted in somatotropes may act as an autoregulatory signaling molecule. To test this hypothesis we first examined the nature of GABA receptors expressed by GH cells. RT-PCR analysis demonstrated that GABA-B receptor subunits R1 and R2 are present in the whole rat pituitary. Laser microdissection of immunostained GH cells, followed by RT-PCR as well as immunoelectron microscopy, showed that GABA-B receptors are expressed on somatotropes. To investigate GABA-B receptor function in somatotropes, we used rat GH3 adenoma cells, which, like pituitary GH cells, express GABA-B R1 and R2 (as assessed by RT-PCR and immunoelectron microscopy) and produce GABA (checked by high performance liquid chromatography). After inhibition of endogenous GABA synthesis, GH production was stimulated by baclofen, a chromatography). After inhibition of endogenous GABA synthesis, GH production was stimulated by baclofen, a GABA-B receptor agonist. By contrast, blocking GABA-B receptors by an antagonist, phaclofen, decreased GH levels. We conclude that in GH-producing cells, GABA acts as an autocrine factor via GABA-B receptors to control GH levels.