Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects ∼5 million people around the world. PD etiopathogenesis is poorly understood and curative or disease modifying treatments are not available. Mechanistic studies have identified numerous pathogenic pathways that overlap with many other neurodegenerative diseases. Mutations in the protein optineurin (OPTN) have recently been identified as causative factors for glaucoma and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. OPTN has multiple recognized roles in neurons, notably in mediating autophagic flux, which has been found to be disrupted in most neurodegenerative diseases. OPTN+ aggregates have preliminarily been identified in cytoplasmic inclusions in numerous neurodegenerative diseases, however, whether OPTN has a role in PD pathogenesis has yet to be tested. Thus, we chose to test the hypothesis that OPTN expression and localization would be modulated in pre-clinical PD models. To test our hypothesis, we characterized midbrain OPTN expression in normal rats and in a rat rotenone PD model. For the first time, we show that OPTN is enriched in dopamine neurons in the midbrain, and its expression is modulated by rotenone treatment in vivo. Here, animals were sampled at time-points both prior to overt neurodegeneration and after severe behavioral deficits, where a lesion to the nigrostriatal dopamine system is present. The effect and magnitude of OPTN expression changes are dependent on duration of treatment. Furthermore, OPTN colocalizes with LC3 (autophagic vesicle marker) and alpha-synuclein positive puncta in rotenone-treated animals, potentially indicating an important role in autophagy and PD pathogenesis.