The consequences of 6-hydroxydopamine lesions of the mesolimbic dopamine system on hoarding behavior were investigated in the rat. Specific lesions of this system, at the level of either the ventral tegmental area or the nucleus accumbens, resulted in abolition or severe reduction of hoarding activity. Similar lesions of the forebrain noradrenaline neurons did not affect hoarding. In further experiments, amphetamine and apomorphine locomotor responses, spontaneous motor behavior, food intake and eating patterns, and the existence of any regulatory deficits were examined. A subtle disorganization of eating patterns was found in animals with mesolimbic-dopamine lesions. It was determined that the hoarding deficit could not be due to motor, ingestive, or regulatory impairments. In a final experiment, it was demonstrated that hoarding behavior can be restored to control levels in dopamine-lesion rats by prior treatment with the catecholamine presursor L-dopa. These findings suggest that hoarding activity is mediated by mesolimbic dopamine neurons, and it is hypothesized that this system is necessary for the facilitation of certain types of foraging responses under a high level of arousal.