The characteristics of dopamine (DA) uptake and release were compared in the core and shell of the nucleus accumbens (NAc). DA release was elicited from rat brain slices by local electrical stimulation, and its extracellular concentration was monitored with fast-scan cyclic voltammetry using Nafion-coated, carbon-fiber microelectrodes. The voltammetric results show that the values of DA release and uptake in the shell NAc are approximately one-third of those measured in the core region, and DA uptake in the shell was less sensitive than the core to inhibition by either cocaine or nomifensine. The density of [3H]mazindol binding sites in the NAc was examined by autoradiography and the shell was found to have an average of half the number of DA uptake sites measured in the core region. This combination of anatomical and functional results shows that DA neurotransmission in the shell NAc is distinct from that in the core region. These data are consistent with the view that multiple functional forms of the DA transporter, exhibiting disparate kinetics and pharmacology, exist in different brain regions that exhibit disparate kinetics and pharmacology. Different forms of the transporter, combined with different release kinetics and auto- and heteroreceptor activity, give a vast range of possibilities for regional variation in DA neurotransmission.