Release of norepinepriine (NE) and its metabolites in the bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) was examined using in vivo microdialysis in conscious rats before, during and after 2 h of immobilization. Microdialysate levels of NE and of dihydroxyphenylglycol (DHPG) increased by 170-290% above basal levels during the 1st h of immobilization and decreased gradually thereafter. In contrast, levels of dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) increased gradually over the entire period of immobilization, peaking at 110% above baseline levels. These findings indicate that in rats a single immobilization is attended by increased synthesis, release and reuptake of NE within the BNST. The results are consistent with previous findings relating to stress-induced release of NE in the hypothalamic paraventricular nucleus, central nucleus of the amygdala and cerebral cortex and suggest concurrent noradrenergic activation in several brains centers during acute stress.