The current report assessed the effects of low-level proton irradiation in inbred adult male Fischer 344 and Lewis rats performing an analog of the human Psychomotor Vigilance Test (PVT), commonly utilized as an object risk assessment tool to quantify fatigue and sustained attention in laboratory, clinical, and operational settings. These strains were used to determine if genetic differences in dopaminergic function would impact radiation-induced deficits in sustained attention. Exposure to head-only proton irradiation (25 or 100 cGy) disrupted rPVT performance in a strain-specific manner, with 25 cGy-exposed Fischer 344 rats displaying the most severe deficits in sustained attention (i.e., decreased accuracy and increased premature responding); Lewis rats did not display behavioral deficits following radiation. Fischer 344 rats displayed greater tyrosine hydroxylase and dopamine transporter levels in the frontal cortex compared to the Lewis rats, even though radiation exposure increased both of these proteins in the Lewis rats only. Tyrosine hydroxylase was decreased in the parietal cortex of both rat strains following radiation exposure, regardless of proton dose. Strain-specific cytokine changes were also found in the frontal cortex, with the Lewis rats displaying increased levels of putative neurotrophic cytokines (e.g., CNTF). These data support the hypothesis that basal dopaminergic function impacts the severity of radiation-induced deficits in sustained attention.