The modulation of striatal dopamine release by presynaptic nicotinic acetylchorine receptors is well documented for both synaptosomes and slices. Because the latter retain local anatomical integrity, we have compared [H-3]dopamine release evoked by the nicotinic receptor agonists (-)-nicotine and (+/-)-anatoxin-a from striatal synaptosome and slice preparations in parallel. At higher agonist concentrations, mecamylamine-sensitive [H-3]dopamine release was greater from slices, indicative of an additional component, and this increase was abolished by glutamate receptor antagonists. To begin to examine the localisation of specific nicotinic acetylchorine receptor subtypes in the striatum, immunogold electron microscopy was undertaken with the beta 2-specific monoclonal antibody 270. In striatal sections, gold particles were associated with symmetric synapses (dopaminergic) but were absent from asymmetric synapses (glutamatergic). Surface labelling of striatal synaptosomes with gold particles was also demonstrated. Taken together, these results are consistent with dopamine release mediated by beta 2-containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors on dopamine terminals, while non-beta 2-containing nicotinic acetylcholine receptors may enhance dopamine release indirectly by releasing glutamate from neighbouring terminals.