Opioid use in HIV infection has been associated with an increased frequency of neurological disease and cognitive impairment and vitamin A deficiency has been linked to progressive HIV disease in drug users. In this report the potential effects of these factors, alone and in combination, on gamma amino butyric acid (GABA)-expression interneurons in hippocampus in the HIV-1 transgenic rat (TG) model were studied. TG and wild-type (WT) F344 Fisher rats deficient in vitamin A from birth were implanted either with a 37.5 mg morphine tablet or with a matching placebo and total numbers of neurons and of parvalbumin+ neurons were quantitated and parvalbumin expression was quantitated in the CA1 hippocampal region of the rats. These studies showed that total neuronal numbers were decreased in the TG versus WT Fisher rats and that this decrease was enhanced by the vitamin A deficient diet and by treatment with morphine. In contrast, there was no significant change noted in numbers of parvalbumin+ neurons. However, levels of parvalbumin expression were decreased for vitamin A deficient and morphine-treated WT rats as compared to WT rats on the normal diet and placebo-treated WT rats. For TG rats, parvalbumin expression was higher for vitamin A deficient TG rats treated with either placebo or morphine than for WT vitamin A deficient rats treated with placebo, and placebo treated vitamin A deficient TG rats showed higher expression than morphine treated vitamin A deficient rats. Expression was also higher for vitamin A deficient morphine-treated rats than for the corresponding WT rat groups and for vitamin A deficient TG rats treated with placebo. For the remaining groups, parvalbumin was similar for the TG and WT rats. These findings suggest that in hippocampus vitamin A deficiency and morphine can increase parvalbumin expression, perhaps as a manifestation of a stress response. Parvalbumin-expressing GABA-ergic interneurons regulate the primary neuronal output from hippocampus that is important for memory and behavior. Therefore, these studies suggest that vitamin A deficiency and morphine might have effects that may impact such outputs and thereby have lasting effects on cognitive status.