The present study investigated the effects of 6-hydroxydopamine lesions of the dorsal striatum on a five choice serial reaction time task which assesses visual sustained and divided attention. Striatal dopamine loss by itself produced no deficits in accuracy on the standard form of the task, but lengthened response latencies and increased omissions and perseverative behaviour. Reducing the temporal predictability of the visual event led to impaired accuracy, contrasting with previously published effects of ventral striatal dopamine depletion. To further investigate the interactions between dopaminergic and glutamatergic systems within the basal ganglia, we have tested the effects of 6-hydroxydopamine lesions in animals bearing subthalamic nucleus lesions. Previous evidence [C. Baunez and T. W. Robbins, (1997) Eur. J. Neurosci. 9, 2086-2099] has revealed multiple deficits after bilateral lesions of the subthalamic nucleus. The present study replicated these effects. In combination with subthalamic nucleus lesions, striatal dopamine loss antagonised the increase in premature responding but did not counteract any of the other impairments. These results show the involvement of the dopaminergic nigrostriatal pathway in motor attention and arousal. Furthermore, they underline the independence of subthalamic nucleus lesion-induced effects from dopaminergic systems.