The aim of the present study was to investigate the interactions between the in vivo release of dopamine and certain drugs, during conditions of increased dopaminergic activity. Dopaminergic neurons in the nucleus accumbens were activated by feeding hungry rats. 48-96 h after implantation of a microdialysis probe 30 min food ingestion by hungry rats induced an immediate eating response that was accompanied with a reproducible and long-lasting increase in extracellular dopamine and 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC). The effect of various drugs (infused into the nucleus accumbens via the microdialysis probe), on the extracellular levels of dopamine and DOPAC were recorded, and the effect of eating was determined. Infusion of 5 mumol/l nomifensine and 3.4 mmol/l calcium increased dopamine release respectively 5.4 and 2-fold but did not modify the eating related increase in dopamine and DOPAC release. Infusion (1 mumol/l) as well as intraperitoneal administration (20 mg/kg) of sulpiride induced an increase in basal dopamine release to 220 and 195% of controls, respectively. Both routes of sulpiride pretreatment enhanced the eating related increase in extracellular dopamine and DOPAC. The results of the sulpiride experiments indicate that a behaviorally induced stimulation of dopamine release is modified by autoinhibition.