The effects of several stress procedures on the release of 5-HT in the dorsal and median raphe nuclei (DRN and MRN, respectively) and in forebrain structures of the rat brain innervated by both nuclei have been studied using intracerebral microdialysis. Handling for 30 sec, a saline injection and forced swimming for 5 min elevated significantly the 5-HT output in the MRN. The 5-HT output in the DRN was also enhanced by a saline injection. With regard to the forebrain structure examined, handling and forced swimming increased dialysate 5-HT in the amygdala. The injection of saline induced a slight, but significant, elevation of 5-HT in the medial prefrontal cortex. In contrast, the outflow of 5-HT was significantly reduced in the ventral hippocampus and medial prefrontal cortex following forced swimming and this effect persisted well beyond the cessation of the swim session. These results indicate that the efflux of 5-HT in the MRN appears to respond to different forms of stress, whereas that in the DRN only increases after the injection of saline. The release of 5-HT in the forebrain structures is also dependent on the type of stress procedure and the region studied.