Peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ coactivator 1α (PGC-1α) is a transcriptional coactivator known to regulate gene programs in a cell-specific manner in energy-demanding tissues, and its dysfunction has been implicated in numerous neurological and psychiatric disorders. Previous work from the Cowell laboratory indicates that PGC-1α is concentrated in inhibitory interneurons and is required for the expression of the calcium buffer parvalbumin (PV) in the cortex; however, the impact of PGC-1α deficiency on inhibitory neurotransmission in the motor cortex is not known. Here, we show that mice lacking PGC-1α exhibit increased amplitudes and decreased frequency of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents in layer V pyramidal neurons. Upon repetitive train stimulation at the gamma frequency, decreased GABA release is observed. Furthermore, PV-positive interneurons in PGC-1α -/- mice display reductions in intrinsic excitability and excitatory input without changes in gross interneuron morphology. Taken together, these data show that PGC-1α is required for normal inhibitory neurotransmission and cortical PV-positive interneuron function. Given the pronounced motor dysfunction in PGC-1α -/- mice and the essential role of PV-positive interneurons in maintenance of cortical excitatory:inhibitory balance, it is possible that deficiencies in PGC-1α expression could contribute to cortical hyperexcitability and motor abnormalities in multiple neurological disorders. © 2014 IBRO.