We studied the role of central dopamine in the development of hypertension. Earlier work had shown that depletion of brain dopamine can inhibit the age-related rise in blood pressure in spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHR). In an open-field test, locomotor activity of Wistar-Kyoto controls was inhibited by haloperidol, apomorphine and sulpiride, but these drugs had less effect in SHR. The stimulation-evoked release of [3H]-dopamine from slices of the striatum of SHR was smaller than that from slices of WKY. The inhibition of the stimulation-evoked release of [3H]-dopamine by quinpirole was greater in SHR than in WKY. The results from the lesion experiments and from the behavioural activity studies would suggest an enhanced release of central dopamine in SHR, which might contribute to the development of hypertension in these animals. However, the in vitro release experiments (and subsequent in vivo microdialysis experiments) do not support such an enhanced release but rather showed decreased release of striatal dopamine in SHR.