To assess dopamine efflux during novelty-seeking behavior in rats, fast-scan cyclic voltammetry in the nucleus accumbens was combined with free-choice entry into a novel environment. Cyclic voltammograms, confirmed by in vitro testing, revealed that entry into novel, but not familiar, surroundings increased dopamine efflux in a regionally and temporally distinct pattern. Whereas dopamine failed to change in the core region of the accumbens and overlying neostriatum, an abrupt increase occurred in accumbal shell, a limbic-related area implicated in goal-directed behavior. Although the dopamine response was confined to the brief period of entry into novelty (approximately 8 s duration), a less rapid and more persistent dopamine change (> 20 s duration) occurred in the shell-core transition zone, the so-called shore. These results suggest that novelty mimics other positively reinforcing stimuli in enhancing dopamine transmission in the nucleus accumbens, but the regional and temporal heterogeneity of this effect may represent different aspects of accumbal dopamine function.