The two mitogen-activated protein kinases (MAPKs), extracellular signal-regulated protein kinase 1 and 2 (ERK1/2), are involved in the control of gene expression via phosphorylation and activation of the transcription factors cyclic AMP response element binding protein (CREB) and Elk-1. Here, we have examined the effect of haloperidol and clozapine, two anti-psychotic drugs, and eticlopride, a selective dopamine D2 receptor antagonist, on the state of phosphorylation of ERK1/2, CREB and Elk-1, in the mouse dorsal striatum. Administration of the typical anti-psychotic haloperidol stimulated the phosphorylation of ERK1/2, CREB and Elk-1. Virtually identical results were obtained using eticlopride. In contrast, the atypical anti-psychotic clozapine reduced ERK1/2, CREB and Elk-1 phosphorylation. This opposite regulation was specifically exerted by haloperidol and clozapine on ERK, CREB, and Elk-1 phosphorylation, as both anti-psychotic drugs increased the phosphorylation of the dopamine- and cyclic AMP-regulated phosphoprotein of 32 kDa (DARPP-32) at the cyclic AMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) site. The activation of CREB and Elk-1 induced by haloperidol appeared to be achieved via different signalling pathways, as inhibition of ERK1/2 activation abolished the stimulation of Elk-1 phosphorylation without affecting CREB phosphorylation. This study shows that haloperidol and clozapine induce distinct patterns of phosphorylation in the dorsal striatum. The results provide a novel biochemical paradigm elucidating the molecular mechanisms underlying the distinct therapeutic actions of typical and atypical anti-psychotic agents.