The antimicrobial agent oxolinic acid, injected i.p. in mice, induced a dose dependent increase in locomotor activity. This stimulation culminated at the 32 mg/kg dose and became smaller for higher doses (64-128 mg/kg). When opposed to increasing doses (50-100-200 microg/kg i.p.) of haloperidol (D2 dopamine receptor antagonist), the stimulant locomotor effect of 32 mg/kg oxolinic acid was not significantly reversed. On the contrary increasing doses (7.5-15-30 microg/kg s.c.) of SCH 23390 (D1 dopamine receptor antagonist) inhibited the stimulant locomotor effect. In mice made completely akinetic by a pretreatment with reserpine (4 mg/kg s.c., 18 h before testing), dexamphetamine (2 mg/kg s.c.) reversed this akinesia and even displayed a stimulant activity, similar to that observed in mice not treated by reserpine. On the contrary, oxolinic acid (32 mg/kg) did not reverse the reserpine induced akinesia and even opposed the reversion induced by dexamphetamine. In a synaptosomal fraction prepared from striatum of rats, oxolinic acid inhibited the 3H dopamine uptake with an IC50 = 4.3+/-0.6 x 10(-6) M. Finally, in mice injected i.v. with a tracer dose of 3H WIN 35428 (1 microCi) (a dopamine uptake blocker), 32 mg/kg oxolinic acid, i.p. administered, reduced by about 50% the specific binding of the radioligand to striatal dopamine carriers. It is concluded that the stimulant locomotor effect of oxolinic acid depends on the blockade of the neuronal dopamine uptake complex.