Mutations that reduce expression or give rise to a Thr85Ser (T85S) mutation of Ca(2+)-CaM-dependent protein kinase kinase-2 (CaMKK2) have been implicated in behavioural disorders such as anxiety, bipolar and schizophrenia in humans. Here we report that Thr85 is an autophosphorylation site that endows CaMKK2 with a molecular memory that enables sustained autonomous activation following an initial, transient Ca(2+) signal. Conversely, autophosphorylation of Ser85 in the T85S mutant fails to generate autonomous activity but instead causes a partial loss of CaMKK2 activity. The loss of autonomous activity in the mutant can be rescued by blocking glycogen synthase kinase-3 (GSK3) phosphorylation of CaMKK2 with the anti-mania drug lithium. Furthermore, CaMKK2 null mice representing a loss of function model the human behavioural phenotypes, displaying anxiety and manic-like behavioural disturbances. Our data provide a novel insight into CaMKK2 regulation and its perturbation by a mutation associated with behavioural disorders.