1. The effects of selective opioid receptor agonists and antagonists on N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA, 10 microM)-induced release of [3H]-dopamine and [14C]-acetylcholine (ACh) from superfused neostriatal slices were studied to investigate the possible occurrence of functional kappa-opioid receptor subtypes in rat brain. 2. The kappa receptor agonists (-)-ethylketocyclazocine ((-)-EKC), U69593 and the endogenous opioid peptide dynorphin A1-13 caused a naloxone-reversible inhibition of NMDA-induced [3H]-dopamine release, with pD2 values of about 9, 8.5 and 8.2, respectively, whereas both the mu agonist Tyr-D-Ala-Gly-(NMe)Phe-Gly-ol (DAMGO) and the delta agonist D-Pen2-D-Pen5-enkephalin (DPDPE) were ineffective in this respect. The inhibitory effect of submaximally effective concentrations of dynorphin A1-13, U69593 and (-)-EKC on NMDA-induced [3H]-dopamine release were not changed by the delta1/delta2-opioid receptor antagonist naltrindole (up to a concentration of 1 microM, but reversed by the kappa receptor antagonist nor-binaltorphimine (nor-BNI), with an IC50) as low as 0.02 nM, indicating the involvement of U69593-sensitive kappa1-opioid receptors. 3. NMDA-induced [14C]-ACh release was reduced in a naloxone-reversible manner by DPDPE (pD2 about 7.2), dynorphin A1-13 (pD2 6.7) and EKC (pD2 6.2), but not by U69593 and DAMGO. The inhibitory effect of a submaximally effective concentration of DPDPE, unlike those of dynorphin A1-13 and (-)-EKC, on NMDA-induced [14C]-ACh release was antagonized by naltrindole with an IC50 of 1 nM, indicating the involvement of delta-opioid receptors in the inhibitory effect of DPDPE. On the other hand, the inhibitory effects of dynorphin A1-13 and (-)-EKC on [14C]-ACh release were readily antagonized by nor-BNI with an IC50 of about 3 nM. A 100 fold higher concentration of nor-BNI also antagonized the inhibitory effect of DPDPE, indicating the involvement of U69593-insensitive kappa2-opioid receptors in the inhibitory effects of dynorphin A1-13 and (-)-EKC. 4. Although naloxone benzoylhydrazone (NalBzoH), displaying high affinity towards the putative kappa3-opioid receptor, antagonized the inhibitory effects of dynorphin A1-13 and (-)-EKC on [3H]-dopamine and [14C]-ACh release as well as that of U69593 on [3H]-dopamine release, it displayed a low apparent affinity (IC50 about 100 nM) in each case. 5. In conclusion, whereas activation of kappa1-opioid receptors causes presynaptic inhibition of NMDA-induced dopamine release, kappa2 receptor activation results in inhibition of ACh release in rat neostriatum. As such, this study is the first to provide unequivocal in vitro evidence for the existence of functionally distinct kappa-opioid receptor subtypes in the brain.