There has been a resurgence of interest in synthetic and plant-derived flavonoids as modulators of γ-amino butyric acid-A (GABAA) receptor function influencing inhibition mediated by the major inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. Areas of interest include (i) flavonoids that show subtype selectivity in recombinant receptor studies in vitro consistent with their behavioural effects in vivo, (ii) flumazenil-insensitive modulation of GABAA receptor function by flavonoids, (iii) the ability of some flavonoids to act as second-order modulators of first-order modulation by benzodiazepines and (iv) the identification of the different sites of action of flavonoids on GABAA receptor complexes. An emerging area of interest is the activation of GABAA receptors by flavonoids in the absence of GABA. The relatively rigid shape of flavonoids means that they are useful scaffolds for the design of new therapeutic agents. Like steroids, flavonoids have wide-ranging effects on numerous biological targets. The challenge is to understand the structural determinants of flavonoid effects on particular targets and to develop agents specific for these targets.