Astrocytes have been proposed to regulate the extracellular space in the brain, even if rather little is known about their specific functions. One possibility for obtaining more knowledge on the functions of astroglial cells is to examine how they respond on exposure to pharmacological agents. Na(+)-valproate is an anticonvulsive drug which is used in the treatment of several types of epilepsy. The mechanisms of action of the drug are not fully understood, but the GABA-ergic system, both in neurons and astrocytes, has been shown to be affected. In the present study, the effects of valproate were investigated on astroglial cells in primary cultures from newborn rat cerebral cortex. The transport of the drug itself and its effects on the transport of the amino acid transmitters glutamate, aspartate and gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) into astrocytes were examined. The [3H]valproate transport into the astrocytes was increased after exposure to L-glutamate but not L-aspartate. On the other hand, after acute exposure for the drug, the transport of [3H]L-glutamate and [3H]L-aspartate decreased, as also did the affinity but not the transport capacity for the [3H]GABA uptake. However, after 5 days chronic valproate exposure, no effects could be seen on the uptake kinetics of L-glutamate or L-aspartate. For GABA, the affinity decreased, while the transport capacity remained unchanged compared with controls. The results showed that valproate, glutamate, aspartate and GABA were capable of interacting significantly with each others transport into the astrocytes.