The deep mesencephalic nucleus (DMN) is a large midbrain reticular region located between the substantia nigra compacta and the superior colliculus. It contains GABAergic cells that share striatal afferents, thalamic and collicular efferents, as well as neurochemical and electrophysiological similarities, with those of the substantia nigra reticulata. In the present paper we used electrophysiological (firing rate and firing pattern) and morphological (densitometric analysis of in situ hybridization histochemical labeling for glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD)65 and GAD67 mRNA) techniques, to study the response of DMN GABAergic cells to the degeneration of nigral dopaminergic cells. Our results showed that unilateral dopaminergic cell loss (after injection of 6-hydroxydopamine in the medial forebrain bundle) induces a bilateral and symmetrical increase in both firing rate and GAD67 mRNA levels and a decrease in GAD65 mRNA levels. These findings support the involvement of DMN GABAergic cells in the basal ganglia modifications that follow dopaminergic cell loss, also suggesting its participation in the pathophysiology of Parkinson's disease. The symmetry of effects, together with its recently reported bilateral projections to the thalamus and superior colliculus, suggest that unlike substantia nigra reticulata, DMN is involved in the interhemispheric regulation of basal ganglia, probably keeping their functional symmetry even after asymmetric lesions.