[3H]Serotonin uptake into mouse cerebrocortical synaptosomes was decreased by the K+ ionophore valinomycin, the K+ and Na+ ionophore gramicidin, and the proton ionophore carbonylcyanide m-chlorophenylhydrazone. The Na+/H+ exchanger monensin reduced uptake at non-depolarizing concentrations. Uptake was also decreased by inhibition of the Na+, K(+)-ATPase with ouabain and by tetrodotoxin-sensitive activation of voltage-dependent sodium channels with veratridine, batrachotoxin and scorpion venom. In contrast, the Ca2+ channel agents BAY K8644 and nimodipine were ineffective. The effect of reducing the Na+ gradient depended upon whether the internal Na+ concentration was raised (i.e. by scorpion venom, monensin) or the external Na+ concentration was lowered (37 mM NaCl in the medium).