We have previously shown that chronic administration of the antidepressant desipramine, a norepinephrine transporter (NET) inhibitor to mice markedly enhanced convulsions induced by local anesthetics and that behavioral sensitization may be relevant to decreased [3H]norepinephrine uptake by the isolated hippocampus. The co-administration of local anesthetics with desipramine reversed the behavioral sensitization and down-regulation of NET function induced by desipramine. The present study aimed to elucidate whether chronic treatment with desipramine regulates the expression of NET protein examined in membrane fractions in various brain regions and whether co-administration of local anesthetics affects the desipramine-induced alteration of NET expression. Desipramine with or without local anesthetics was injected intraperitoneally once a day for 5 days. The animals were decapitated 48 h after the last administration of drugs and the whole cell fraction, membrane fraction and cell-surface protein fraction were prepared. [3H]nisoxetine binding was significantly reduced in the P2 fraction of the hippocampus by chronic administration of desipramine, and the reduction was overcome by co-administration of lidocaine with desipramine. Immunoreactive NET was detected by SDS-PAGE and immunoblotting in the murine hippocampus. NET protein expression in the whole cell fraction and membrane fraction was not affected by treatment with any drugs. However, administration of desipramine significantly reduced the amount of immunoreactive NET in the cell-surface protein fraction. This reduction was blocked by simultaneous injection of lidocaine, bupivacaine or tricaine. These results indicate that the NET down-regulation indicated by the reduction of [3H]nisoxetine binding was induced by administration of desipramine via decrease of NET localization on the cell surface. The antagonistic actions of local anesthetics against NET down-regulation by desipramine were related to alterations of the cell-surface localization of NET.