Hitherto, high-frequency local field potential oscillations in the upper gamma frequency band (40-80 Hz) have been recorded only from the region of subthalamic nucleus (STN) in parkinsonian patients treated with levodopa. Here we show that local field potentials recorded from the STN in the healthy alert rat also have a spectral peak in the upper gamma band (mean 53 Hz, range 46-70 Hz). The power of this high-frequency oscillatory activity was increased by 30 +/- 4% (+/-SEM) during motor activity compared to periods of alert immobility. It was also increased by 86 +/- 36% by systemic injection of the D2 dopamine receptor agonist quinpirole. The similarities between the high-frequency activities in the STN of the healthy rat and in the levodopa-treated parkinsonian human argue that this oscillatory activity may be physiological in nature and not a consequence of the parkinsonian state.