Dopamine (DA) release was simultaneously monitored in the nucleus accumbens (NAC) and ventral tegmental area (VTA) of conscious rats using in vivo microdialysis. During dialysis perfusion, rats were allowed access to food or water for 20 min following a 36 h food and water deprivation period. DA release increased significantly in the NAC and VTA in response to eating and drinking. The increases in both regions continued until 20-60 min after the end of the feeding or drinking session. These results show that the mesolimbic DA pathway is activated in response to ingestive behavior, and that DA release occurs in the cell body (A10) region as well as in the mesolimbic DA nerve terminals.