The basal overflow of extracellular endogenous amino acids was measured from the ventrolateral medulla of urethane anaesthetized rats in vivo by microdialysis. Inclusion of a mercury salt, p-chloromercuriphenylsulphonic acid, in the dialysate (Krebs' solution), results in a preferential increase in the overflow of aspartate, glutamate, glycine and GABA. A smaller increase in the overflow of the glutamate precursor and metabolite, glutamine, was also found. There was no significant change in the basal extracellular levels of taurine, asparagine, alanine, serine, ornithine or lysine. Inclusion of a specific GABA uptake inhibitor, nipecotic acid, in the dialysate results in an immediate, dose dependent increase in the overflow of GABA, and to a lesser extent, taurine. Since it is likely that mercury salts increase neurotransmitter release by increasing free intracellular calcium ion concentrations, it is suggested that these results provide further evidence for a physiologically relevant neurotransmitter role for aspartate, glutamate, glycine and GABA in the ventrolateral medulla.