The real-time measurement of electrically evoked dopamine was established in brain extracellular fluid of freely moving rats. Dopamine was monitored by fast-scan cyclic voltammetry at carbon fiber microelectrodes lowered into the striatum by means of a detachable micromanipulator. A stimulating electrode, previously implanted in the substantia nigra, was used to evoke striatal dopamine efflux. Evoked extracellular dopamine was both current and frequency dependent. When low current intensities (+/-125 microA) and frequencies (10-20 Hz) were applied, detectable levels of dopamine were elicited without a perceptible behavioral response. Reproducible concentrations of extracellular dopamine could be evoked in the same rat for at least 2 months. These concentrations, moreover, were significantly higher in freely moving rats compared with rats anesthetized with Equithesin. Analysis of measured curves for dopamine uptake and release rates revealed that anesthesia inhibits release but does not affect uptake. It is concluded that (a) fast-scan cyclic voltammetry at carbon fiber microelectrodes is a viable technique for the measurement of electrically evoked dopamine in brain extracellular fluid of freely moving rats, (b) it is possible to determine in situ rate constants for dopamine release and uptake from these temporally and spatially resolved measurements of levels of dopamine, and (c) transient changes in extracellular dopamine levels elicited by electrical stimulation are affected by anesthesia.