Electrophysiological studies were conducted on chloral hydrate-anesthetized rats to determine if the dorsal raphe nucleus (DR) exerts an inhibitory influence upon the dorsal lateral geniculate nucleus (dLGN), and if this inhibition is mediated by the release of serotonin (5-HT). Conditioning stimuli presented to the DR 100-400 ms before an optic tract (OT) shock significantly lowered the amplitude of OT shock-elicited, postsynaptic, field potentials of less than 3 ms latency. Rare, long-latency, field potentials (greater than 5 ms) were diminished in amplitude when preconditioning intervals were less than 15 ms. Six days after intracerebral injection of the 5-HT neurotoxin, 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine (8 micrograms), into the dLGN, significant reductions were observed in 5-HT and 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid in the dLGN. Field potentials recorded on the sixth day in indoleamine-depleted dLGN were significantly less inhibited by DR preconditioning. Intracerebral injections of a control solution neither altered monoamine levels nor the degree of inhibition by DR preconditioning. These data provide further evidence that inhibition of dLGN by DR is mediated by release of 5-HT.