The effect of acute sodium valproate administration, an anxiolytic and putative panicolytic drug, was evaluated in rats tested in the elevated T-maze, an animal model that measures two defensive reactions: avoidance (inhibitory avoidance), related to generalized anxiety, and escape (escape from open arms), related to panic. Additionally, the involvement of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmission in sodium valproate effects was studied by picrotoxin co-administration. Sodium valproate (300 mg/kg, intraperitoneally, 30 min before the test) impaired both avoidance latency (time to leave the closed arm) and one-way escape (latency to enter the closed arm) indicating anxiolytic and panicolytic effects, respectively. Pre-treatment with picrotoxin (0.5 mg/kg, intraperitoneally, 5 min before sodium valproate administration) blocked the effects of sodium valproate on inhibitory avoidance and one-way escape. No locomotor effect was seen in the open-field. These data suggest that sodium valproate exerts anxiolytic-like and panicolytic-like effects in the elevated T-maze and that these effects were mediated by picrotoxin-sensitive GABA type A receptors.