Two experiments were designed to assess the effect of a "novel" environment on the development of sensitization to the psychomotor activating effects of d-amphetamine. In the first experiment, rats with a unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine lesion of the mesostriatal dopamine system received ten daily injections of amphetamine (2 mg/kg), either in their home cages or in novel test cages. The home and novel cages were physically identical (cylindrical transparent buckets), but one group lived and were tested in these cages, whereas the other group was transported from the stainless steel hanging cages where they lived to these novel test cages, for each test session. The first injection of amphetamine produced significantly more rotational behavior in animals tested in a novel environment than in animals tested at home. In addition, animals tested in a novel environment showed greater sensitization than animals tested at home, so the difference between the two groups was even more pronounced following the last injection. In a second experiment, locomotor activity was quantified in rats that received ten injections of either saline or 1.5 mg/kg amphetamine, in their home cages or in a physically identical novel environment. Again, there was a significantly greater locomotor response to the first injection of amphetamine, and greater sensitization, in animals tested in a novel environment than in animals tested at home. These data indicate that environmental factors can exert a large effect on the susceptibility to sensitization, and mechanisms by which this may occur are discussed.