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The activation of 5-HT2A receptors in medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) by the hallucinogen DOI increases the firing activity of dorsal raphe (DR) 5-HT neurons and prefrontal 5-HT release. Here we show that the i.v. administration of DOI markedly affected the firing rate of identified pyramidal neurons recorded extracellularly. DOI excited (481%) 21/56 neurons, inhibited (11%) 17/56 neurons and left the rest unaffected (overall 2.4-fold increase in firing rate). Both effects were antagonized by 5-HT2A receptor blockade. 5-HT2A-mediated orthodromic excitations were recorded in pyramidal neurons projecting to DR after electrical stimulation of this nucleus. We also examined whether the effects of DOI in mPFC involve thalamic excitatory inputs. The disinhibition of the mediodorsal and centromedial nuclei of the thalamus by local bicuculline resembled the effects of DOI as it increased pyramidal cell firing and 5-HT release in mPFC. However, the selective activation of prefrontal μ-opioid and mGlu II receptors counteracted the effects of the thalamic disinhibition but not those of DOI. Moreover, extensive thalamic lesions did not alter the effect of DOI on pyramidal cell firing and 5-HT release. We conclude that DOI increases the activity of the mPFC-DR circuit by an action on postsynaptic 5-HT2A receptors unrelated to thalamocortical afferents.