Norepinephrine (NE), dopamine (DA), 3,4-dihydroxyphenylalanine (DOPA), and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) were measured simultaneously by high performance liquid chromatography with electrochemical detection in extracts of olfactory bulbs at various intervals after chemical or surgical deafferentation. Chemical deafferentation of mice by intranasal irrigation with Triton X-100 or of rats by olfactory axotomy resulted in a rapid progressive decline of DA and DOPAC and an associated rise in NE in the olfactory bulb. However, after several weeks, these values returned to prelesion levels concomitant with reinnervation of the bulb by the afferent neurons. In contrast, deafferentation by procedures known to prevent reinnervation of the bulb by the afferent chemoreceptor neurons (i.e., a ZnSo4 solution in mice or a surgical procedure in rats) completely blocked the return to pre-lesion values of DA, DOPAC, and NE. The specificity of these effects was demonstrated by the inability of intranasal administration of the neurotoxin 6-hydroxydopamine to alter DA levels, resulting instead in a significant decline in olfactory bulb NE content. These data demonstrate that the DA content of the olfactory bulb can be influenced by either chemical or surgical modulation of the afferent pathway in two different species. This offers additional support for our hypothesis of transsynaptic regulation of intrinsic DA neurons of the bulb by the afferent olfactory chemoreceptor neurons.