In recent years, considerable emphasis has been placed upon the putative role of nucleus accumbens dopamine systems in appetitive motivation and positive reinforcement. However, considerable evidence indicates that brain dopamine in general, and nucleus accumbens dopamine in particular, is involved in aspects of aversive motivation. Administration of dopamine antagonists or localized interference with nucleus accumbens dopamine systems has been shown to disrupt active avoidance behavior. In addition, accumbens dopamine release and metabolism is activated by a wide variety of stressful conditions. A review of the literature indicates that there are substantial similarities between the characteristics of dopaminergic involvement in appetitive and aversive motivation. There is conflicting evidence about the role of dopamine in emotion, and little evidence to suggest that the profound and consistent changes in instrumental behavior produced by interference with DA systems are due to direct dopaminergic mediation of positive affective responses such as hedonia. It is suggested that nucleus accumbens dopamine is involved in aspects of sensorimotor functions that are involved in both appetitive and aversive motivation.