While there is abundant evidence for a role of 5-HT and the amygdala in anxiety and depression, the role of 5-HT in this brain region in schizophrenia is less well understood. We therefore examined the effects of local 5-HT depletion in the amygdala on psychotomimetic drug-induced locomotor hyperactivity and prepulse inhibition, two animal model of aspects of schizophrenia. Pentobarbital-anaesthetized (60 mg/kg, i.p.) male Sprague-Dawley rats were stereotaxically micro-injected with 0.5 microl of a 5 microg/mul solution of the 5-HT neurotoxin 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine (5,7-DHT) into either the basolateral (BLA) or central nucleus of amygdala (CeN). Two weeks after the surgery, rats with BLA lesions did not show changes in either psychotomimetic drug-induced locomotor hyperactivity or prepulse inhibition. In contrast, rats with CeN lesions showed significant disruption of prepulse inhibition, but no changes in psychotomimetic drug-induced locomotor hyperactivity. Neurochemical analysis and autoradiographic labelling of 5-HT transporter sites showed that a good degree of anatomical selectivity was obtained. Following administration of 5,7-DHT into the amygdala, the concentration of 5-HT was significantly reduced. Similarly, 5-HT transporter autoradiographs showed differential and selective lesions of 5-HT innervation in targeted subregions of the amygdala. These results provide evidence for differential involvement of 5-HT projections within the amygdala in prepulse inhibition but not locomotor hyperactivity. Thus, the present study supports the view that 5-HT in the amygdala may be involved in aspects of schizophrenia and a target for antipsychotic drug action.