1. Previous studies indicate that tonically active neurons (TANs) are the cholinergic interneurons of the striatum and predict that their activity is synchronized. To test whether TANs do fire synchronously, and whether dopamine depletion affects their synchronization, we recorded the simultaneous activity of several TANs in the putamens of two vervet monkeys before and after 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) treatment. 2. Cross-correlation analysis revealed that most pairs of TANS (33 of 54; 61.1%) fire synchronously at +/- 60-ms delay. Correlated activity was more common between neurons with characteristic response to reward (17 of 19 pairs; 89.5%). 3. Cross-correlation study of 24 triplets of TANS showed synchronization of spiking activity of all 3 TANS in only 29.2% of cases (7 of 24 triplets). Correlated activity of two of three possible pairs was found in 25% of the cases. 4. After MPTP treatment and the development of parkinsonian symptoms, most TANS' auto- and cross-correlograms (22 of 28 units; 78.6%; and 23 of 28 pairs; 82.1%) became oscillatory. The number of correlated pairs was slightly increased (24 of 28; 85.7%). The strength of the synchronization was not significantly different from the normal values. 5. These findings support the notion that TANs function as distributed, partially overlapping synchronized networks. However, a normal dopaminergic system is not essential for synchronization of TANs; on the contrary, dopaminergic activity may even have a desynchronizing effect on the basal ganglia's system.