IN order to elucidate the importance of the striatal GABAergic neurones in mediating functional effects of exogenously applied brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the basal ganglia, we performed daily injections of BDNF or vehicle into the dopamine-depleted striatum of unilaterally 6-hydroxydopamine-lesioned rats for 1 week. In situ hybridization revealed that BDNF exacerbated the lesion-induced up-regulation of preproenkephalin (PPE) mRNA, and completely reversed the lesion-induced decrease of preprotachykinin (PPT) mRNA. In contrast, striatallevels of trkB mRNA were not significantly affected by BDNF administration. Up-regulation of PPE and PPT mRNA was also observed in unlesioned BDNF-injected animals. We conclude that exogenously applied BDNF increases neuropeptide mRNA expression in striatal neurones independently of the presence of a dopaminergic innervation.