Parkinson's disease (PD) is characterized by loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra (SN), the cause of which is unknown. Characterization of early SN pathology could prove beneficial in the treatment and diagnosis of PD. The present study shows that with the use of short-echo (5 ms) Stimulated-Echo Acquisition Mode (STEAM) spectroscopy and LCModel, a neurochemical profile consisting of 10 metabolites, including γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate (Glu), and glutathione (GSH), can be measured from the unilateral SN at 4 tesla. The neurochemical profile of the SN is unique and characterized by a fourfold higher GABA/Glu ratio compared to the cortex, in excellent agreement with established neurochemistry. The presence of elevated GABA levels in SN was validated with the use of editing, suggesting that partial volume effects were greatly reduced. These findings establish the feasibility of obtaining a neurochemical profile of the unilateral human SN by single-voxel spectroscopy in small volumes. © 2006 Wiley-Liss, Inc.