Brain-derived neurotrophic factor is known to modulate the function of GABAergic synapses, but the site of brain-derived neurotrophic factor action is still a matter of controversy. This study was aimed at further dissecting the functional alterations produced by brain-derived neurotrophic factor treatment of GABAergic synaptic connections in cultures of the murine superior colliculus. The functional consequences of long-term brain-derived neurotrophic factor treatment were assessed by analysis of unitary evoked and delayed inhibitory postsynaptic currents in response to high frequency stimulation of single axons. It was found that brain-derived neurotrophic factor facilitated the asynchronous release, but had no effect on the probability of evoked release, the size of the readily releasable pool, and the paired-pulse behavior of evoked inhibitory postsynaptic currents. However, the amplitudes of evoked inhibitory postsynaptic currents, delayed inhibitory postsynaptic currents and miniature inhibitory postsynaptic currents were significantly reduced. Non-stationary fluctuation analysis revealed a decrease in the open channel number at the miniature/evoked inhibitory postsynaptic current peak, but no effect on the mean GABA(A) receptor single channel conductance. Quantitative immunocytochemistry uncovered a significant elevation of presynaptic levels of glutamic acid decarboxylase 65. Together, these findings indicate that brain-derived neurotrophic factor treatment induces pre- as well as postsynaptic changes. What effect predominates will depend on the presynaptic activity pattern: at low activation rates brain-derived neurotrophic factor-treated synapses display a pronounced postsynaptic depression, but at high frequencies this depression is fully compensated by an enhancement of asynchronous release.