We have used in vivo microdialysis in anaesthetised rats to investigate whether somatostatin (SRIF) can play a neuromodulatory role in the striatum. When 100 nM SRIF was retrodialysed for 15 min, it increased concentrations of dopamine (DA) by 28-fold, γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) by eightfold, and glutamate (Glu) by sixfold as well as those of aspartate (Asp) and taurine (Tau). These effects were both calcium- and tetrodotoxin-sensitive. Lower (10 or 50 nM) and higher (1 μM) SRIF concentrations were less effective. Rapid sampling showed that whereas Asp and Glu concentrations were raised for 3 min at the start of 15-min SRIF infusions, those of DA were increased for 12 min. A second 15-min application of 100 nM SRIF given 135 min after the first application failed to increase transmitter release. An NMDA receptor antagonist, 2-amino-5-phosphonopentanoic acid (200 μM), blocked SRIF (100 nM)-evoked Asp, Glu, Tau, and GABA release and reduced that of DA. An α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methylisoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA)/kainate antagonist, 6,7-dinitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione (100 μM), blocked SRIF-induced DA and Tau release and reduced that of Asp, Glu, and GABA. These results show that SRIF increases DA, Glu, Asp, GABA, and Tau release in the rat striatum and suggest that its actions on DA and GABA release are mainly mediated through increased excitatory amino acid release.