In the adult central nervous system (CNS), gamma-amino butyric acid (GABA) is a predominant inhibitory neurotransmitter, which regulates glutamatergic activity. Recent studies have revealed that GABA serves as an excitatory transmitter in the immature CNS, and is involved in brain morphogenesis. To elucidate how GABA exerts its effect on immature neurons and how GABAergic synapses are formed, we examined both development of pre- and post-synaptic elements of the GABAergic synapses formed between granule and Golgi cells in the mouse cerebellar granular layer. Immunohistochemistry for glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) demonstrated that GABA was localized throughout the Golgi cells before postnatal day 7 (P7), and became confined to the axon terminals during the second postnatal week. Electron microscopic analysis demonstrated that GABAergic synapses were clearly detected at P10. In situ hybridization and immunohistochemistry for the GABA(A) receptor alpha1 and alpha6 subunits, which are mainly involved in inhibitory synaptic transmission, demonstrated that both subunits appeared at P7. Distribution of both subunits expanded in the granular layer with special reference to the development of GABAergic synapses. Furthermore, the majority of the subunits accumulated adjacent to the GABAergic terminals. These results suggested that in the granular layer, GABA might be non-synaptically secreted from Golgi cell axons and dendrites during the first postnatal week. From the second postnatal week, GABA is synaptically released and begins to mediate inhibitory transmission. Furthermore, it was suggested that GABAergic innervation could initiate expression and trafficking of the GABA(A) receptors containing the alpha1 and alpha6 subunits.