Pharmacological blockade of either D1 or D2 dopamine (DA) receptors prevents damage of striatal DA terminals by repeated doses of methamphetamine (m-AMPH). Because the substantial DA overflow produced by multiple m-AMPH treatments appears to contribute to the subsequent injury, we have investigated the effects of blockade of D1 or D2 receptors on m-AMPH-induced DA efflux using in vivo microdialysis. Four treatments with m-AMPH (4 mg/kg, s.c., 2-h intervals) produced large increases in striatal DA overflow, with particularly marked overflow (10 times the basal values) following the fourth injection. Administered by themselves, four injections of the D1 antagonist SCH 23390 or the D2 antagonist eticlopride (0.5 mg/kg, i.p., 2-h intervals) significantly increased striatal DA overflow. However, treatment with either SCH 23390 or eticlopride 15 min before each of four m-AMPH injections attenuated the marked DA peak otherwise seen after the fourth m-AMPH injection. These effects on DA overflow were related to subsequent DA depletions. Although our m-AMPH regimen produced a 54% reduction in striatal DA tissue content 1 week later, pretreatments with either the D1 or the D2 antagonist completely prevented subsequent DA content depletions. Furthermore, the DA content of striatal tissue remaining 1 week after m-AMPH treatment was significantly correlated with the magnitude of the cumulative DA overflow during the m-AMPH treatment (r = -0.69). Thus, the extensive DA overflow seen during neurotoxic regimens of m-AMPH appears critical to the subsequent neurotoxicity, and the neuroprotective action of DA receptor antagonists seems to result from their attenuation of stimulant-induced DA overflow.