Gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) dysfunction is a known feature of alcoholism. We investigated GABA-B receptor activity in 3-week abstinent alcoholics using the growth hormone (GH) response to baclofen, a GABA-B receptor agonist. The study aimed to investigate the relationship between GABA-13 receptor activity and alcohol withdrawal. GH response to baclofen was measured in alcohol-dependent males without depression (n = 22) who were on day 21 of alcohol abstinence and in healthy control male subjects (n = 23). After 20 mg baclofen was given orally to the subjects, blood samples for GH assay were obtained every 30 min for the subsequent 150 min. The patients were divided into two subgroups (continuing withdrawal and recovered withdrawal subgroups) according to their withdrawal symptom severity scores on day 21 of alcohol cessation. Baclofen administration significantly altered GH secretion in the controls, but not in the patients. When GH response to baclofen was assessed as Delta GH, it was lower in the patients with continuing withdrawal symptoms than in the controls and in the recovered withdrawal group. Impaired GH response to baclofen in all patients mainly pertained to the patients whose withdrawal symptoms partly continued. Our results suggest that reduced GABA-B receptor activity might be associated with longerterm alcohol withdrawal symptoms in alcoholic patients. (c) 2007 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.