The effects of the dopamine (DA) D1 and D2 receptor agonists SKF38393, bromocriptine and quinpirole, respectively, on spontaneous sleep were analyzed in adult rats prepared for chronic sleep recordings. Local administration of the DAergic agonists into the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) during the light phase of the light-dark cycle induced a significant reduction of rapid-eye movement sleep (REMS) and the number of REM periods. Additionally, bromocriptine and quinpirole significantly increased wakefulness (W). Opposite, the microinjection into the DRN of the DA D1 and D2 receptor antagonists SCH23390 and sulpiride, respectively, significantly augmented REMS and the number of REM periods. Pretreatment with SCH23390 and sulpiride prevented the effects of SKF38393 and bromocriptine, respectively, on sleep variables. Our results tend to indicate that DAergic neurons located in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and substantia nigra pars compacta (SNc) contribute to the regulation of predominantly W and REMS by DRN serotonergic neurons.