Ovariectomized rats treated or not with an estradiol pellet were subjected to an unilateral intrastriatal infusion of 6-hydroxydopamine (6-OHDA). Various parameters of nigrostriatal dopaminergic function as derived from measurements of dopamine and dihydroxyphenylacetic acid (DOPAC) concentrations were determined from the 6-OHDA lesioned and non-lesioned sides of the corpus striatum in these animals. Dopamine concentrations within the 6-OHDA lesioned striatum of estrogen-treated rats were significantly greater than non-estrogen-treated rats. There were no differences in striatal dopamine concentrations between estrogen- versus non-estrogen-treated rats on their non-lesioned side. In contrast to that of dopamine, no differences in DOPAC concentrations between estrogen and non-estrogen-treated rats were obtained within the 6-OHDA-lesioned side. The DOPAC concentrations on the non-lesioned side of the striatum were significantly greater in the non-estrogen-treated rats. These results demonstrate that estrogen significantly diminishes the depletion of striatal dopamine resulting from the neurotoxin 6-OHDA. The data obtained from the DOPAC determinations imply that this capacity of estrogen may be exerted through actions upon uptake processes of striatal dopaminergic neurons. Such findings suggest that estrogen may function as an important modulatory factor capable of attenuating degeneration within the corpus striatum, and in this way serve as a neuroprotectant of the nigrostriatal dopaminergic system.