Melatonin (MLT) and serotonin (5-HT) are two biosynthetically related compounds implicated in several common physiological functions and the etiology of mood disorders. How they interact, though, is not yet fully understood. In this study, single-unit extracellular recordings were used to monitor dorsal raphe nucleus (DR) 5-HT neuronal activity in anesthetized rats, under basal conditions (CTRL), in response to MLT administration, and after pinealectomy (PX) across the light-dark cycle. Under basal conditions, the number of spontaneously active 5-HT neurons and their firing rate were both significantly lower in the dark phase. In the light phase, administration of MLT at low doses (0.5-1 mg/kg, i.v.) decreased 5-HT firing activity. This inhibitory effect of MLT was completely blocked by the MT₁/MT₂ receptor antagonist luzindole, but not by the selective MT(2) receptor antagonist 4P-PDOT, the selective 5-HT(1A) receptor antagonist WAY100635, or by the α₂ adrenoceptor antagonist idazoxan. In the opposite experiment, PX increased 5-HT firing activity in the dark phase, and this was reversed by MLT administration (1 mg/kg, i.v.). Finally, in a forced swim test, MLT (1 mg/kg, i.p.) increased immobility time and decreased swimming behavior. Together, these results suggest that nocturnal MLT secretion imposes tonic inhibitory control over a sub-population of DR 5-HT neurons. This MLT-induced decrease in 5-HT neurotransmission may represent a biological mechanism underlying mood disorders characterized by increased MLT secretion, such as seasonal affective disorder.