Two anatomically and neurochemically distinguishable regions of the nucleus accumbens (Acb), the core and the shell, have been shown to differentially regulate feeding behavior. Nevertheless, despite the well-known role of Acb dopamine in the modulation of motivated behaviors, there have been no studies directly comparing the effects of acute dopamine receptor blockade in the Acb core versus the Acb shell on feeding. In this study, D1- or D2-selective dopamine receptor antagonists were infused bilaterally into the Acb core or shell of hungry rats, whereupon feeding, drinking, and spontaneous motor activity were monitored. Both the D1 antagonist SCH 23390 (0, 1, and 2 microg/0.5 microl) and the D2 antagonist raclopride (0, 1, and 2 microg/0.5 microl) markedly suppressed ambulation and rearing when infused into either the Acb core or shell. Total food intake and latency to begin feeding were unaffected by either drug in either site. SCH 23390 in the Acb shell, and raclopride in the Acb core or shell, significantly decreased the total number of feeding bouts. In the Acb core, raclopride produced a small but statistically significant increase in overall feeding duration. Dopamine receptor blockade in either site tended to increase mean feeding bout duration. Measures of drinking behavior were generally unaffected. Hence, dopamine receptor blockade in either the Acb core or shell of hungry rats suppressed spontaneous motor activity and shifted the structure of feeding towards longer bout durations, but did not alter the total amount of food consumed. In the Acb shell, the effects of D1 receptor blockade tended to be of greater magnitude than the effects of D2 receptor blockade, although major differences between core and shell effects were not observed. These results are discussed with regard to current theories of dopaminergic control of feeding behavior, and with reference to the functional heterogeneity of Acb subregions.