In vitro findings suggested a role for the p75 neurotrophin receptor in the maturation of GABAergic neurons residing in the basal forebrain (BF), a brain area known to have p75 expression only on cholinergic neurons. We document here the presence of GABAergic neurons which express p75 in the BF in vivo. Colocalization of p75 with the cholinergic marker choline-acetyltransferase (ChAT) and/or the GABAergic marker glutamic acid decarboxylase-67 (GAD67) was investigated in the BF at birth, at two weeks, and in adulthood. A subset of GAD67(+) neurons was p75(+) (p75(+)/GAD67(+)) but ChAT(-) in the substantia innominata and nucleus basalis magnocellularis at birth, whereas all p75(+)/GAD67(+) neurons were also ChAT(+) from two weeks onward. These phenotypic features suggest that a subpopulation of GABAergic neurons could be sensitive to neurotrophins during brain maturation. To unravel this issue, we then pursued a functional analysis by assessing p75 expression profile, and its modulation by nerve growth factor (NGF) or brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in primary BF cell cultures. NGF increased p75 expression exclusively in cholinergic neurons, whereas BDNF induced p75 expression only in a subset of GABAergic neurons (p75(+)/GAD67(+)/ChAT(-)) through a p75- and tyrosine-kinase-dependent mechanism. The latter findings point to a selective role of BDNF in the induction of p75 expression in BF GABAergic neurons. Altogether these results confirm the role of neurotrophins in the developing and mature circuitry of GABAergic neurons in the BF regions.