Dopamine has undergone extensive investigation due to its known involvement in a number of neurological and psychiatric disorders. In particular, studies into pathological conditions have focused on the roles of high amplitude, phasically evoked dopamine release in regions such as the prefrontal cortex and striatum. However, research has shown that dopamine release can be more complex than just phasic release; thus, there is also a tonic, background dopamine release, with alterations in tonic dopamine release likely having unique and important functional roles. Unfortunately, however, tonic dopamine release has received relatively little attention. In this review, we summarize our recent studies and discuss how modulation of the dopamine system, both in terms of phasic activation and attenuation of tonic dopamine are important for the functions of brain regions receiving this dopamine innervation, and that imbalances in these dopamine release mechanisms may play a significant role in psychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia.