In the rat brain, dopamine is metabolised by both A and B forms of monoamine oxidase (MAO), although the A form of the enzyme is the major component. The Km of MAO-A toward dopamine (120 microM) is lower than the Km of MAO-B toward this substrate (340 microM). The activity of MAO-A was lower in old rats than in young rats, and the same degree of decrease was found for 5-hydroxytryptamine as for dopamine as substrates for this enzyme form. The activity of MAO-B was higher in the old rats, the degree of increase being the same for dopamine as for beta-phenethylamine as substrates for this enzyme form. The Ki values of the inhibition of MAO-A by cimoxatone and MD770222 (the principal plasma metabolite of cimoxatone) were independent of the substrate used to assay for activity, but were lower than the Ki values for the inhibition of MAO-B by these compounds.