A series of experiments examined the effects of 8 weeks of social isolation on spontaneous locomotor activity, prepulse inhibition (PPI) of the acoustic startle response, latent inhibition (LI) in a conditioned suppression paradigm, and basal and d-amphetamine stimulated dopamine (DA) release in the ventral striatum, as measured by in vivo microdialysis. Both isolation-reared animals (those isolated from the weaning age) and isolation-housed animals (those isolated as adults) were hyperactive when placed in a novel environment. Social isolation also led to deficits in PPI of the acoustic startle response that were specific to isolation-reared animals. Isolation rearing was without effect on the expression of LI but did lead to an enhanced response to systemic d-amphetamine in terms of striatal DA release. The data are discussed with respect to the involvement of ventral striatal DA mechanisms in the expression of PPI and LI, differences in the impact of social isolation in young and adult animals, and the utility of social isolation model as a nonlesion, nonpharmacologic means of perturbing ventral striatal DA function.