The possible interaction of melatonin receptors and D1 dopamine receptors was investigated in neural cells prepared from embryonic day 8 chick retinas and cultured for 6 d. Dopamine stimulated cAMP accumulation in cultured retinal cells. This effect of dopamine was antagonized by addition of dopamine receptor antagonists (haloperidol and SCH23390) or melatonin receptor agonists (melatonin, 2-iodomelatonin, and 6-chloromelatonin). The inhibition of dopamine-stimulated cAMP accumulation by melatonin was concentration dependent, with half-maximal inhibition at approximately 160 pM. Melatonin inhibited the effect of dopamine at all dopamine concentrations, suppressing the maximal response to the neurotransmitter by approximately 70%. Melatonin also inhibited the stimulation of cAMP accumulation by SKF 82958, a selective D1 dopamine receptor agonist. Pretreatment of cultures with pertussis toxin had no significant effect on dopamine-stimulated cAMP accumulation, but inhibited the response to melatonin. In contrast to its effect on cAMP accumulation, melatonin had no effect on dopamine-stimulated inositol phosphate accumulation. These results suggest that melatonin receptors are coupled to dopamine receptor-regulated adenylate cyclase via an inhibitory G protein, and demonstrate another mechanism, in addition to inhibition of dopamine release, through which melatonin can modulate dopaminergic neurotransmission.