L-DOPA is believed to be decarboxylated by the residual striatal dopaminergic presynaptic terminals with formation of the putative neurotransmitter dopamine (DA) and with increased availability of DA at post-synaptic receptors. However there is no direct evidence that the DA formed is released into the synaptic cleft. We therefore investigated the biochemical modifications occurring in the dopaminergic system after acute administration of L-DOPA. After acute L-DOPA (100 mg/kg plus 25 mg/kg of benserazide p.o.) the levels of 3-methoxytyramine (3-MT), a metabolite reflecting release of the neurotransmitter DA, were significantly raised, following the same pattern as DA levels, indicating that DA release from DA nerve terminals is increased after L-DOPA administration. The increased DA release and 3-MT formation were not reduced by pretreatment with direct DA agonists such as apomorphine (5 mg/kg i.p.) or piribedil (120 mg/kg p.o.). Thus in this case DA release is not under the control of the compensatory mechanisms induced by post-synaptic receptor hyperstimulation.