Rat spinal cord slices prelabelled with [3H]noradrenaline were superfused with a medium containing 1 mu M desipramine plus 0.3 mu M phentolamine. Histamine (0.01-10 mu M) and the selective histamine H3 receptor agonist R-(-)-alpha-methylhistamine (0.001-10 mu M) caused a concentration-dependent decrease in the release of radioactivity evoked by electrical field stimulation (0.8 Hz, 20 mA, 2 min). The inhibitory effect of histamine was not modified by either pyrilamine (1 mu M) or ranitidine (10 mu M), but it was antagonized by burimamide (1 mu M). The inhibitory action of histamine (1 mu M) was attenuated by pertussis toxin (3 mu g/ml) and was abolished by N-ethylmaleimide (30 mu M). Neither forskolin (10 mu M) nor rolipram (100 mu M), nor the combination of both drugs, modified the inhibitory effect of histamine. Histamine (1 mu M) did not modify the overflow of tritium induced by electrical stimulation in the absence of phentolamine. The present results suggest that in the rat spinal cord the release of noradrenaline elicited by electrical stimulation is negatively modulated by histamine, probably through the activation of histamine H3 receptors. This modulatory mechanism is likely to involve the participation of regulatory Go/Gi proteins.