MK-801 (dizocilpine), a noncompetitive N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist, induces dystonia in monkeys at doses of 0.08 mg/kg. This syndrome was tested with the dopamine Dl receptor antagonist NNC 756, the DA D2 receptor antagonist raclopride, the atypical antipsychotic clozapine, the dopamine Dl receptor agonist SKF 81297, the dopamine D2/D3 receptor agonist quinpirole, the anticholinergic biperiden, amphetamine, and the benzodiazepine midazolam in 7 Cebus apella monkeys previously treated with dopaminergic agents. NNC 756 (0.004 and 0.01 mg/kg), raclopride (0.004 and 0.01 mg/kg), SKF 81297 (0.3 and 0.6 mg/kg), quinpirole (0.1 and 0.2 mg/kg), amphetamine (0.25 and 0.5 mg/kg), and biperiden (0.125 and up to 1.0 mg/kg), had no significant effect on MK-801-induced dystonia. In contrast, both clozapine (2.0 mg/kg) and midazolam (0.4 and 1.0 mg/kg) reduced the dystonia caused by MK-801. Dystonia induced by dopamine Dl and D2 antagonists is easily antagonized by biperiden and dopamine agonists, whereas these drugs had no significant effect on MK-801-induced dystonia. It has been proposed that dystonia may be caused by a sudden drop in the output from the basal ganglia that is primarily GABAergic. Midazolam's enhancing effect on the GA-BAergic tone is consistent with this hypothesis. The effect of clozapine is more difficult to explain, but this drug has a rich pharmacology and suggests an agonistic glutamatergic effect.