Microdialysis was used to study the effects of exposure to a male hamster on extracellular concentrations of dopamine, dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC), homovanillic acid (HVA), and 5-hydroxyindole acetic acid (5-HIAA) in the ventral striatum of ovariectomized female Syrian hamsters pretreated with either estradiol and progesterone, or a similar regimen of oil injections. The hormone-treated females showed high levels of lordosis throughout the hour of exposure to the male. In hormone-treated females, there was a rapid elevation of dialysate dopamine within the first 15 min of exposure to the male. Dialysate dopamine gradually declined over the next 45 min, though remaining significantly above baseline during the entire period of exposure to the male. None of the oil-treated females showed any indication of lordosis, and the addition of the male produced only a small increase in dopamine at 30 min, after which dopamine returned to pre-male basal levels. DOPAC, HVA, and 5-HIAA were all elevated following introduction of the male for both groups of females. These results suggest that ovarian hormones modulate the responsivity of ventral striatal dopamine to incentive stimuli associated with mating behavior in females, although extracellular levels of dopamine in the ventral striatum do not seem to be directly coupled to the display of lordosis.