Prolactin (PRL) secretion from the anterior pituitary gland is inhibited by dopamine (DA) released into the hypophysial portal vasculature from neurons in the hypothalamus. We have shown previously that DA also stimulates PRL secretion in vitro. Here we report that DA has a dual effect on PRL release in vivo. Injection of rats with alpha-methyl-p-tyrosine (200 mg/kg, ip) induced an immediate 35-fold enhancement of PRL secretion which reached a plateau by 90 min after injection on diestrus 1. When DA was infused intravenously at varying doses beginning at 90 min after alpha-methyl-p-tyrosine, differing effects on PRL secretion were observed. These effects were dose dependent: higher doses of DA (1000 ng/kg/min) inhibited and lower doses (10 ng/kg/min) stimulated PRL secretion. These data suggest that DA may be an important stimulator of PRL secretion in vivo.