The nucleus accumbens is a major component of the ventral striatum through which most of the limbic affiliated cortical areas gain access to the basal ganglia circuitry. In this study, the organization of the pathways linking the nucleus accumbens to the thalamus, via the substantia nigra pars reticulata, was examined in the rat using anatomical and electrophysiological methods. Use of anterograde and retrograde transport of wheatgerm agglutinin conjugated to horseradish peroxidase has established that the core of the nucleus accumbens innervates a dorsal region of the substantia nigra pars reticulata which projects to subfields of the mediodorsal and ventral medial thalamic nuclei. These subfields consist of the rostral pole of the mediodorsal nucleus with the exception of its central segment and a region of the ventral medial nucleus, medial to the mammillothalamic tract. Confirming the existence of a nucleus accumbens nigrothalamic link, we have observed that electrical or chemical stimulation of the nucleus accumbens induces an inhibition of the spontaneous discharges of the nigral cells which project to the mediodorsal and ventral medial thalamic nuclei. Finally, the cortical projections of the thalamic subfields involved in the nucleus accumbens nigrothalamic circuit were determined using the anterograde and retrograde axonal transport of wheatgerm agglutinin conjugated with horseradish peroxidase. These subfields innervate mainly the prelimbic and to a lesser degree the orbital areas of the prefrontal cortex. The present data show that the substantia nigra pars reticulata is a major link between the core of the nucleus accumbens and the prefrontal cortex and provide further evidence for the concept of a parallel architecture in the basal ganglia thalamocortical circuits of the ventral striatum.