1. Reserpine (2.5 mg kg-1 i.p.) decreased rat brain 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) by 86% 24 h later but most components of the 5-HT-dependent behavioural syndrome induced by p-chloroamphetamine (PCA, 5 mg kg-1 i.p.) or 5-methoxy-N,N-dimethyltryptamine (5-MeODMT, 5 mg kg-1 i.p.) over 1 h after administration were unaffected. However, Straub tail was increased after giving PCA or 5-MeODMT and head weaving was decreased after giving 5-MeODMT. 2. Frontal cortex extracellular 5-HT concentrations of vehicle pretreated rats before injection of PCA, as calculated from dialysate 5-HT concentrations, were about 1/1000th of corresponding brain values. Extracellular 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) and brain values were comparable with each other. Dialysate 5-HT increased after PCA with peak values at 20-40 min. 3. Reserpine pretreatment reduced dialysate 5-HT concentration before PCA was given but the net increase (AUC) over the 1 h after PCA did not differ significantly from that seen in animals pretreated with vehicle. Dialysate 5-HIAA values slowly decreased after PCA injection in both reserpine and vehicle pretreated groups. 4. The results suggest that PCA causes the 5-HT syndrome by releasing 5-HT from the neuronal cytoplasm but that physiological release of 5-HT occurs from vesicular stores.