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Synchronised rhythmic activity of the brain is thought to arise from neuronal network behaviours that rely on synaptic signalling between individual cells. This notion has been a basis to explain periodic epileptiform discharges that are driven by interneuronal networks. However, interneuronal discharges not only engage cell-cell GABAergic transmission but also control the extracellular GABA concentration ([GABA]e) and thus tonic GABAA receptor conductance (Gtonic) across the cell population. At the same time, the firing activity of interneurons shows a bell-shaped dependence on Gtonic, suggesting an innate susceptibility to self-sustained oscillations. Here, we employ patch-clamp GABA ‘sniffer’ and fast two-photon excitation imaging of GABA sensor to show that periodic epileptiform discharges are preceded by a region-wide, rising wave of extracellular GABA. Neural network simulations based on such observations reveal that it is the volume-transmitted, extrasynaptic actions of GABA targeting multiple off-target cells that drives synchronised interneuronal spiking prompting periodic epileptiform bursts. We validate this hypothesis using simultaneous patch-clamp recordings from multiple nerve cells, selective optogenetic stimulation of fast-spiking interneurons, and by revealing the role of GABA uptake. Our findings thus unveil a key role of extrasynaptic, volume-transmitted GABA actions in enabling and pacing regenerative rhythmic activity in brain networks.