The occurrence of side effects with long-term levodopa therapy, such as fluctuations in motor performance or abnormal movements, led to a search for new antiparkinsonian drugs. Dopamine agonists include ergot derivatives such as bromocriptine, lisuride, pergolide, and cabergoline and other agents which do not possess the ergot structure such as pramipexole and ropinirole. They all are powerful stimulators of the D2 dopamine receptor which probably underlies their therapeutic effects. The clinical consequences of their binding to other dopamine receptor subtypes (D1 or D3) remains unknown. They are usually prescribed in combination with levodopa when late side effects begin to occur. This review summarizes the available pharmacologic and clinical data to support the early use of dopamine agonists in Parkinson's disease. Several strategies can be used, such as monotherapy or "early" or "late" combination with levodopa. Results of recent well-performed, modern clinical trials show that early use of the new dopamine agonists is able to effectively control the clinical symptoms for more than 3 years thereby offering the possibility of delaying the occurrence of levodopa-induced late motor side effects.