This study has investigated the effect of stimulating the region of origin of the mesolimbic dopaminergic system, the ventral tegmental area (VTA), with the substance P analogue DiMe-C7 on the regional expression of c-fos in the rat forebrain. We have previously shown this treatment produced a prolonged increase in blood pressure and heart rate which was mediated by both dopaminergic mechanisms and vasopressin release. Stimulation of the VTA resulted in increased levels of c-Fos immunostaining in several target regions of the mesolimbic dopaminergic system (such as the frontal cortex, olfactory tubercle, islands of Calleja and amygdala), with the notable exception of the nucleus accumbens. A marked increase in c-fos expression was also found in the supraoptic nucleus but not the paraventricular nucleus in the hypothalamus. These results support a role for a number of target areas of the mesolimbic dopaminergic system and vasopressin release in the increase in blood pressure and heart rate produced by stimulation of the VTA.