Anatoxin-a (AnTx) is a natural neurotoxin, which acts as a potent and stereoselective agonist at the nicotinic acetylcholine receptors. The in vivo actions of the AnTx on dopamine (DA) release are scarcely characterized. The aim of this study was to determine the neurochemical bases for AnTx-induced striatal DA release, using the brain microdialysis technique, in freely moving rats. Local application of AnTx (3.5 mM) through the microdialysis probe produced an increase in striatal DA levels (701 ± 51% with respect to basal values). The effect of infusion of AnTx in Ca2+-free Ringer medium, in Na+-free Ringer medium and with TTX in the medium, was inhibited. Also, reserpine pre-treatment blocked the action of AnTx on striatal DA levels. To investigate the involvement of the DA transporter, the effects of AnTx were observed in the presence of nomifensine. The coadministration of AnTx and nomifensine evoked an additive effect on striatal DA levels. The latter results show that the DA release is not mediated by a decreased DA uptake. Taken as a whole, these results suggest that the effects of AnTx are predominantly mediated by an exocytotic mechanism, Ca2+-, Na+- and TTX-dependent, and not by a mechanism mediated by the DA transporter.