Previous studies have suggested an important role for maternal glucocorticoids in the development of the aminoacidergic systems of the rat brain. This study examines the effect of metyrapone (2-methyl-1,2-di-3-pyridyl-1-propanone), i.p.-administered to gestating mothers, on the maturation of the aminoacidergic systems of their offsprings' brains. gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate concentrations were determined in male and female offspring at postnatal days (PN) 23 and 90 in four brain areas: the hippocampus, hypothalamus, striatum and cortex. The activity of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), the most important enzyme in the synthesis of GABA, was also analysed. The results show that a reduction in maternal corticosterone during gestation leads to a reduced GABAergic content in all brain areas studied at PN23; permanent organizational changes occurred in the cortex, striatum and hypothalamus. Maternal metyrapone treatment also affected the development of the glutamatergic systems, females being more affected than males at both PN23 and PN90 particularly in the hypothalamus and cortex. The metyrapone treatment produced no changes in GAD activity at PN23, but induced an important increase in this activity at PN90.