In these experiments, induction of the immediate early gene c-fos following excitation of striatal neurons has been used to investigate the organization of the ventral and dorsal striatopallidal systems and the relationship between striatal neurons and cholinergic neurons of the nucleus basalis magnocellularis (of Meynert, nbM). The results demonstrate that FOS immunoreactivity (ir) can be detected in ventral and dorsal striatal neurons following infusions of the non-N-methyl-D-aspartic acid (NMDA) glutamate receptor agonist alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazole propionic acid (AMPA). This activation and increased expression of FOS in striatal neurons was itself associated with the sustained appearance of FOS-ir in neurons of the ipsilateral ventral and dorsal pallidum, subthalamic nucleus and some thalamic nuclei. Infusions of AMPA into the ventral striatum (VS), but not the dorsal striatum (DS), also resulted in the appearance of FOS-ir in a proportion (17%) of the cholinergic neurons of the nbM. By combining the retrograde transport of Fluoro-Gold with FOS immunocytochemistry, it was also possible to demonstrate that approximately 46% and 58% of the pallidal neurons containing FOS-ir after infusions of AMPA into the VS or DS, respectively, directly project to the subthalamic nucleus. Taken together, these observations suggest that visualizing the protein product of transsynaptic c-fos induction provides an effective way to study the topographic and transsynaptic, within-system consequences of striatal activation.