Prepulse inhibition (PPI) is a model of sensorimotor gating, a sensory filtering mechanism which is disrupted in schizophrenia. Here, investigation of the role of the serotonin-1A (5-HT(1A)) receptor in the regulation of PPI in two mouse strains, C57Bl/6 and Balb/c, was used to address findings in the PPI literature on species and mouse strain differences that question the usefulness of PPI as a cross-species preclinical test. Although the full 5-HT(1A) receptor agonist, 8-OH-DPAT, induced markedly different strain-specific responses in PPI, other selective 5-HT(1A) receptor ligands with partial agonist or antagonist activity elicited similar effects across strains. Pretreatment with the serotonin precursor, 5-HTP, to increase serotonergic activity in the brain, unmasked a decrease in PPI caused by 8-OH-DPAT in C57Bl/6 mice. Pretreatment with the serotonin synthesis inhibitor, PCPA, to decrease serotonergic activity in the brain, unmasked an 8-OH-DPAT-induced increase in PPI in this strain. These studies show that the strain-dependent involvement of 5-HT(1A) receptors in PPI can be modulated by the type of 5-HT(1A) ligand used, or increasing or decreasing serotonin levels in the brain. These results help to clarify some of the mouse strain and species differences in PPI regulation and strengthen its usefulness as a cross-species measure of sensorimotor gating.