The dopamine transporter (DAT) substrates dopamine, d-amphetamine (AMPH), and methamphetamine are known to rapidly and transiently reduce DAT activity and/or surface expression in dorsal striatum and heterologous expression systems. We sought to determine if similar substrate-induced regulation of DATs occurs in rat nucleus accumbens. In dorsal striatum synaptosomes, brief (15-min) in vitro substrate pre-exposure markedly decreased maximal [(3)H]dopamine uptake velocity whereas identical substrate pre-exposure in nucleus accumbens synaptosomes produced a smaller, non-significant reduction. However, 45 min after systemic AMPH administration, maximal ex vivo [(3)H]dopamine uptake velocity was significantly reduced in both brain regions. Protein kinase C inhibition blocked AMPH's down-regulation of DAT activity. DAT synaptosomal surface expression was not modified following either the brief in vitro or in vivo AMPH pre-exposure but was reduced after a longer (1-h) in vitro pre-exposure in both brain regions. Together, our findings suggest that relatively brief substrate exposure results in greater down-regulation of DAT activity in dorsal striatum than in nucleus accumbens. Moreover, exposure to AMPH appears to regulate striatal DATs in a biphasic manner, with an initial protein kinase C-dependent decrease in DAT-mediated uptake velocity and then, with longer exposure, a reduction in DAT surface expression.