We analyzed the effect of two different schedules of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) treatment on dopaminergic systems in the striatum of cynomolgus monkeys. Acute MPTP treatment produced a marked dopamine (DA) depletion, more severe in the caudate nucleus than in the putamen. Chronic MPTP induced a more pronounced reduction in DA levels, the putamen being slightly more affected than the caudate nucleus, in accord with immunohistochemical findings that showed a higher loss of tyrosine-hydroxylase positive neurons in ventral subpopulations of the substantia nigra pars compacta. A striking increment in the quotient DOPAC+HVA/DA was also observed in chronically but not in acutely treated monkeys, especially in the putamen. In chronically treated animals there was a nearly complete loss of DA in all subdivisions of the putamen. In the caudate nucleus, a rostrocaudal gradient of DA depletion was found, with a greater decrease in DA concentration in the rostral parts, especially in the dorsolateral portions. The pattern of striatal DA loss characteristic of Parkinson's disease can be reproduced to a certain extent in MPTP-intoxicated primates.