Recent studies have reported that acute administration of dopamine D2 receptor antagonists increases expression of the immediate early gene c-fos in the rat striatal complex. There have been no corresponding studies of the effects of D2 antagonists in primate species. Since all clinically effective antipsychotic drugs share D2 receptor antagonism, it is important to define the extent to which these drugs may alter expression of c-fos or its protein product, Fos, in primates. We therefore examined the effects of administration of two D2 receptor antagonists, haloperidol and metoclopramide, on Fos expression in the striatum and temporal cortices of the vervet monkey. Metoclopramide does not appear to possess significant antipsychotic efficacy but potently produces extra-pyramidal side effects, while haloperidol is an effective antipsychotic drug that produces extrapyramidal side effects. Both drugs increased the number of Fos-like immunoreactive (Fos-li) neurons in the caudate nucleus and putamen; the numbers of Fos-li neurons in these regions were increased in both the patch and matrix compartments. Haloperidol but not metoclopramide increased the number of Fos-li neurons in the nucleus accumbens shell. Similarly, haloperidol but not metoclopramide increased the number of Fos-li neurons in the entorhinal cortex. Neither drug altered Fos expression in the inferior temporal cortex. These data suggest that the dorsolateral caudate nucleus and putamen may be sites at which D2 receptor antagonists elicit extrapyramidal side effects, and the nucleus accumbens shell and entorhinal cortex may be loci at which the therapeutic actions of antipsychotic drugs are manifested.