Perinatal changes in the uptake of amino acids were measured in slices of fetal (15- and 19-day) and newborn (4-, 24-, and 48-hr-old) mouse brain. Uptake increased with age; smaller changes occurred with basic and neutral amino acid transport systems, and the largest changes occurred in fetal brain with amino acids of putative neurotransmitter function (taurine, glycine, GABA, and the acidic amino acids). The pattern of increase in uptake was similar at high and at low external amino acid concentrations. Developmental changes in tissue content of Na(+), K(+), or ATP were small during this period, and so are unlikely to be responsible for the observed changes in uptake. It appears that by the 15th day of fetal life, the transport systems for essential amino acids are fairly well developed in the brain, and the transport systems for neurotransmitter amino acids are not so well developed, but undergo a rapid increase in the 15-19-day period. From birth to adulthood, the concentrative capacity of slices of mouse brain for nonessential (putative neurotransmitter) amino acids is much greater than for essential amino acids.