Recent evidence of functional interactions between D1 and D2 dopamine receptor subtypes has led to the concept that many of the behavioural effects of dopamine agonists occur only with activation of both receptor subtypes. Thus, combined treatment with dopamine agonists selective for each of the D1 and D2 receptors may be an effective therapy for Parkinson's disease, chiefly characterized by loss of central dopamine-containing neurons. In addition, recent hypotheses of the possible pathogenesis of this disorder have suggested that metabolism of dopamine by monoamine oxidase in the presynaptic terminal may contribute to the loss of dopaminergic cells, through the production of reactive by-products. Therefore, the effects of chronic (15 day) treatment of rats with different doses of (+)-4-propyl-9-hydroxynaphthoxazine (PHNO, a D2 receptor agonist), SKF 38393 (a D1 receptor partial agonist) or combinations of both drugs on levels of brain monoamines and some of their acidic metabolites were investigated. Little or no effects of the drugs were observed on measures of dopamine or noradrenaline when given separately, while each selective agonist dose-dependently reduced serotonin levels. Combined treatment with the two agonists produced profound effects on the catecholamines, but with no effect on 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid, the metabolite of dopamine produced by monoamine oxidase. In addition, the effects of combined treatment on serotonin levels were opposite of those of the drugs given independently. Concomitant treatment of animals with both D1 and D2 receptor agonists can therefore increase tissue levels of dopamine without increasing the potentially harmful metabolism of dopamine by monoamine oxidase.