Rapid eye movement sleep decreases dramatically during development. We tested the hypothesis that some of this decrease may be due to GABAergic inhibition of reticular activating system neurons. Recordings of pedunculopontine neurons in vitro showed that the γ-amino-butyric acid, receptor agonist muscimol depolarized noncholinergic cells early in the developmental decrease in rapid eye movement sleep, and hyperpolarized them later. Most cholinergic cells were hyperpolarized throughout the period tested. The γ-amino-butyric acid b receptor agonist baclofen hyperpolarized both cholinergic and noncholinergic cells, although the degree of polarization decreased with age. Part of the gradual decrement in rapid eye movement sleep during development may be due in part to the increasing inhibition mediated by γ-amino-butyric acid, a receptor on pedunculopontine neurons. This influence, however, appears to be mainly on noncholinergic cells.