The effect of dopamine (DA) on excitatory synaptic transmission was studied in rat neostriatal neurons using intracellular- and whole-cell voltage clamp-recording methods. Depolarizing excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) were evoked by cortical stimulation. Superfusion of DA (0.01-10 microM) reversibly decreases EPSP in a concentration-dependent manner and with a estimated IC50 of 0.3 microM. In addition, the inhibitory effect induced by DA at a low concentration (0.1 microM) was antagonized by sulpiride (1-10 nM), a selective D2 dopaminergic receptor antagonist. However, D1 dopaminergic receptor antagonist SKF-83566 (1-5 microM) did not affect the blocking effect by DA 0.1 microM. Based on these findings, we conclude that DA at a low concentration (< or = 0.1 microM) reduced the excitatory response of neostriatal neurons following cortical stimulation via the activation of D2, but not D1 dopaminergic receptors, located on the terminals of corticostriatal neurons.