Single exposure of adult male rats to low environmental temperature (LET, 12 ± 0.5°C) for 2 h significantly increased the hypothalamic and striatal GABA levels without affecting those in other regions of brain. The activity of glutamate decarboxylase (GAD) was elevated in hypothalamus (H) and corpus striatum (CS) under these conditions. GABA accumulation rate (measured with ethanolamine-O-sulfate, an inhibitor of GABA-transaminase) was also increased in both H and CS of rats exposed to LET for 2 h. Unlike after a single exposure, the repeated exposure (2 h/day) for 7, 15, and 30 onsecutive days did not change the hypothalamic GABA metabolism. No change in GABA metabolism was observed in CS when rats were repeatedly exposed to LET for 7 consecutive days. Prolongation of repeated exposure to LET (2 h/day) for 15 and 30 consecutive days decreased the striatal GABA level and increased the activity of GABA-transaminase, although GAD activity was not altered under these conditions. These results suggest that single exposure to LET accelerates GABA synthesis and may reduce the GABAergic activity in both H and CS; whereas repeated exposure to LET for 15 or 30 consecutive days enhances GABAergic activity with the stimulation of GABA utilization only in CS without affecting its synthesizing process. Thus, it may be suggested that the hypothalamic and striatal GABA system may play a characteristic role in response to short-and long-term exposure to LET. © 1990 Plenum Publishing Corporation.