The properties of GABA-gated chloride (Cl^-) channels in ischemia-reperfusion injury were studied by determination of the binding and dissociation kinetics of a specific Cl^- channel ligand, tert-butylbicyclophosphoro[^35S]thionate (TBPS) and by determination of ^36Cl^- uptake in the presence of the GABAA receptor agonist, muscimol. Four days after ischemia a small but insignificant decrease of [^35S]TBPS binding to synaptic plasma membranes (SPM) was observed in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex as compared to control. The effect of ischemia was larger and statistically significant after the first and second month of reperfusion, constituting 20% inhibition of [^35S]TBPS binding to SPM of sham-operated gerbils. On the other hand, the half-life of fast phase [^35S]TBPS dissociation four days after ischemia was markedly diminished by about 40%-50% as compared to its control value and persisted during the first and second month of reperfusion in the hippocampal SPM. A similar but less potent reduction of the half-life of the fast phase of [^35S]TBPS dissociation (about 30% versus control) appeared one and two months after ischemia in cerebral cortex SPM. One month after ischemia muscimol-stimulated ^36Cl^- uptake into cerebral cortex synaptoneurosomes was lowered as compared with control uptake, but remained statistically insignificant in the whole range of muscimol concentrations tested. Our results indicated that ischemia-reperfusion injury significantly decreases opening time of GABAA receptor-gated Cl^- channels in the hippocampus and cerebral cortex, which may lower the hyperpolarization ability of this receptor complex leading to an imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter pathways in these brain areas, and in consequence to neuronal dysfunction or degeneration.