Dopamine and serotonin neurotransmission regulate striatal preprotachykinin messenger RNA levels. In the present study, we investigated serotonin 2A/2C receptor-mediated regulation of preprotachykinin messenger RNA expression in the rat striatum after adult dopamine depletion produced with 6-hydroxydopamine. Significant reductions (46-61% of control values) in preprotachykinin messenger RNA levels were detected by in situ hybridization in rostral, central and caudal regions of the striatum after >85% dopamine depletion. Repeated administration of the specific serotonin2A/2C receptor agonist, (+/-)-2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine hydrobromide, to dopamine-depleted rats completely reversed the reduction in preprotachykinin messenger RNA levels in rostral, central and dorsal-caudal striatal regions. In unlesioned (vehicle-injected) control animals, repeated administration of (+/-)-2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine hydrobromide did not affect preprotachykinin messenger RNA expression in rostral, central and ventral-caudal striatal regions, but decreased preprotachykinin messenger RNA levels in the dorsal-caudal striatal subregion. In addition, serotonin turnover in the dopamine-depleted rostral striatum was significantly increased by 35-45% which is consistent with serotonin hyperinnervation after 6-hydroxydopamine lesions. These data show that the decrease in striatal preprotachykinin messenger RNA after dopamine depletion can be normalized with repeated serotonin2A/2C receptor stimulation. We hypothesize that this serotonin2A/2C receptor regulation of preprotachykinin messenger RNA expression after 6-hydroxydopamine is a consequence of serotonin hyperinnervation, which may include increased striatal serotonin2A/2C receptors, induced by dopamine depletion. We also propose that the serotonin system could be pharmacologically targeted to restore the direct striatal tachykinin pathway in Parkinson's disease.