Pramipexole (SND 919; 2-amino-4,5,6,7-tetrahydro-6-propyl-amino-benzthiazole- dihydrochloride) was tested for its agonistic activity at pre- and postsynaptic dopamine (DA) receptors. L-Dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-dopa) accumulation in the rat striatum and limbic system and the alpha-methyltyrosine-induced reduction of DA were inhibited. Both effects were fully antagonized by haloperidol but not by the selective DA D1 receptor antagonist SCH 23390. Pramipexole decreased the levels of DA metabolites dose dependently, whereas striatal DA levels remained unchanged. In mice, pramipexole (0.001-1 mg/kg s.c.) reduced exploratory locomotor activity. In rats with unilateral striatal lesions, only weak ipsilateral rotation was produced by pramipexole at the highest dose. However, in rats with unilateral lesions of the medial forebrain bundle, pramipexole potently induced contralateral circling (ED50 0.026 mg/kg s.c.). In the N-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) monkey model, pramipexole also had potent stimulatory effects. Finally, in haloperidol-sensitized monkeys, the substance did not elicit dyskinesia/dystonia when given alone, but rather inhibited those symptoms which had been induced by haloperidol (ED50 0.116 mg/kg i.m.). It is concluded that pramipexole has therapeutic potential for schizophrenic patients, as a result of its autoreceptor agonistic effects and its weak effects at normosensitive postsynaptic DA receptors. Furthermore, its potent stimulatory effects in DA-depleted animals suggest a possible use in the treatment of Parkinson's disease.