The effect of transitory blockage of substantia nigra pars compacta glutamatergic inputs by intracranial injections of kynurenic acid were evaluated in two monkey treated with 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP). The MPTP protocol was designed to mimic the gradual evolution of human Parkinson's disease. No effects were observed before MPTP treatment or in the first stage of treatment. Once clinical signs appeared, however, motor abnormalities were significantly aggravated by blockage of these inputs (P < 0.001). Conversely, after full Parkinsonism was established, blockage no longer had any behavioural effect. These results confirm the postulated compensatory role of the glutamatergic pathways feeding the substantia nigra pars compacta. This added insight into the physiopathology of the basal ganglia, when compared with previous data on the presymptomatic revelation of experimental Parkinsonism, should help elucidation of the time pattern of evolution of Parkinson's disease.