The effects of prefrontal cortical dopamine depletion on subcortical dopamine function in the rat were examined. 6-Hydroxydopamine lesions of the dopaminergic innervation of the prefrontal cortex did not alter concentrations of dopamine or its metabolite 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid in either the striatum or nucleus accumbens. Similarly, the activity of the catecholamine biosynthetic enzyme tyrosine hydroxylase in the striatal complex was not changed in animals with prefrontal cortical lesions. Animals sustaining neurotoxic lesions of the prefrontal cortex were challenged with haloperidol in order to activate submaximally tyrosine hydroxylase activity. The magnitude of the haloperidol-induced increase in enzyme activity in the nucleus accumbens was significantly greater in lesioned subjects than in control animals. These data suggest that lesions of the prefrontal cortical dopamine innervation do not result in significant alterations in basal dopaminergic function in the striatal complex. However, lesions of the dopaminergic innervation of the prefrontal cortex significantly increase the responsiveness of mesolimbic dopamine afferents to pharmacological challenge.