The recent technique of using ibotenic acid to lesion selectively local neurons while sparing fibers of passage permitted us to answer a long-standing question: is lateral hypothalamic self-stimulation supported by fibers of passage or are the intrinsic hypothalamic neurons involved? Three groups of adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were used. In a normal group, electrodes were bilaterally implanted in the lateral hypothalamus and self-stimulation (ICSS) was obtained separately with the right and left electrodes, at various current intensities, using a nose-poke response. In the experimental group, the intrinsic neurons of the lateral hypothalamus were destroyed unilaterally by local injection of ibotenic acid (4 or 6 micrograms in 0.5 microliter); the other side served as the sham-lesion control. Ten days later ICSS electrodes were implanted bilaterally, one in the lesioned area, the other in the contralateral hypothalamus. As in the case of the normal animals, the rate of nose-poking (ICSS) was then determined separately for each electrode. In the normal rats, ICSS rates were the same with stimulation on either side and the increase in ICSS rate as a function of the increase in current intensity was the same on each side. In the experimental rats, ICSS of the lesioned side was decreased in all cases; moreover, after lesion with the 6 micrograms dose, ICSS was totally suppressed. Self-stimulation of the sham-lesioned side was not significantly different from that observed in the normal rats. In 6 rats sampled from the lesioned groups as well as in 3 additional unimplanted animals, biochemical assays compared dopamine and serotonin contents of the two striata and noradrenaline and serotonin contents of the two hippocampi. No difference was observed for these two structures between the side ipsilateral to the lesion and the contralateral side. Moreover, none of these monoamine levels differed from those seen in the unimplanted rats. These results, taken together, suggest that intrinsic lateral hypothalamic neurons are involved in ICSS.