Catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors have been newly introduced as adjunct drugs to the levodopa/dopa decarboxylase inhibitor therapy in Parkinson's disease. When given alone, catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors seem to affect behaviour. We wanted to determine whether the concentrations of free amine would be increased by catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibition with tolcapone and underpin the positive behavioural effects. To this end, dopamine and noradrenaline levels were analyzed in the microdialysis perfusion fluid collected from several brain regions in chloral hydrate anaesthetized rats. We also analyzed the turnover rate of catecholamines in the brain after single doses of tolcapone and entacapone using the alpha-methyl-p-tyrosine method. On their own, tolcapone (at 10 or 30 mg/kg) did not elevate dopamine or noradrenaline levels in any brain region studied although the formation of catechol-O-methyltransferase-dependent metabolites was strongly reduced. Neither tolcapone nor entacapone (at 30 mg/kg) affected the turnover rate of catecholamines. It seems that catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibitors do not alter behaviour by elevating extracellular levels of free catecholamines levels but other explanations are needed.