Restraint of brief duration causes a metabolic activation of mesocortical and some mesolimbic dopaminergic systems with little effect on the nigrostriatal system. We have examined the ability of an antagonist of the allosteric glycine site of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor complex to block the stress-induced response in dopamine utilization. Thirty minutes of restraint stress elevated dopamine metabolism, as measured by the ratio between 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) and dopamine, in both the medial prefrontal cortex and nucleus accumbens. An antagonist for the glycine/N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor complex, 1-hydroxy-3-aminopyrrolidone-2 ((+)-HA-966), given systemically or injected into the ventral tegmental area, prevents the stress-induced increase in dopamine metabolism in the prefrontal cortex without altering the response in the nucleus accumbens. Similarly, systemic administration of the non-competitive antagonist for the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor, dizocilpine ((+)-MK-801), blocked the stress-induced rise in dopamine metabolism in the medial prefrontal cortex but not the nucleus accumbens. The negative enantiomer of HA-966 did not produce a selective antagonism of the stress-induced dopamine metabolism in the medial prefrontal cortex. These results support previous work which suggest the mesocortical and mesoaccumbens dopamine neurons respond to excitatory input through different glutamate receptor mechanisms. Additionally, the specific blockade of the stress-induced change in dopamine metabolism in the medial prefrontal cortex by a glycine antagonist implies a role for such an antagonist in treatment of disease states which may involve disruptions of N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor function.