The brain metabolism of glutamate and γ-aminobutyrate (GABA) was investigated in thiamin-deficient and pair-fed control rats, in order to determine whether the GABA shunt may provide an important alternative to 2-oxo-glutarate dehydrogenase (EC 22.214.171.124) in energy-yielding metabolism in thiamin deficiency. Brains from thiamin-deficient animals contained less glutamate, 2-oxo-glutarate and GABA than those from control animals. The brain content of ATP was unaffected by thiamin deficiency. After intracerebroventricular injection of [14C]glutamate, the specific radioactivity of GABA in the brains from deficient animals was 45–50% higher than that in controls, suggesting a considerable increase in the metabolic flux through the GABA shunt in thiamin deficiency. Brain GABA showed a marked circumannual variation, with a peak in mid-summer and a minimum value in mid-winter.