In vivo microdialysis was used to study the effects of systemic, as well as intracerebral administration of morphine and naloxone on dynorphin B release in neostriatum and substantia nigra of rats. The release of dopamine (DA), gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate (Glu) and aspartate (Asp) was also investigated. Systemic injection of morphine (1 mg/kg s.c.) induced long-lasting increases in extracellular dynorphin B and GABA levels in the substantia nigra, whereas DA, Glu and Asp levels, measured in the same region, were not significantly affected. No effect on striatal neurotransmitter levels was observed following systemic morphine administration. Local perfusion of the substantia nigra with morphine (100 microM) through the microdialysis probe also increased nigral dynorphin B and GABA levels. Perfusion of the neostriatum with morphine (100 microM) significantly increased GABA and dynorphin B levels in the ipsilateral substantia nigra, but no effect was observed locally. Naloxone blocked the effect of systemic morphine administration on nigral dynorphin B and GABA release, already at a dose of 0.2 mg/kg s.c. Naloxone alone, given either systemically (0.2-4 mg/kg s.c.) or intracerebrally (1-100 microM), did not affect dynorphin B or amino acid levels, either in neostriatum or in substantia nigra. However, naloxone produced a concentration-dependent increase in DA levels. The present results indicate that systemic morphine administration stimulates the release of dynorphin B in the substantia nigra, probably by activating the mu-subtype of opioid receptor, since the effect of morphine on nigral dynorphin B and GABA was antagonized by a low dose of naloxone. The increase in extracellular DA levels produced by high concentrations of naloxone, both in neostriatum and substantia nigra, indicates a disinhibitory effect of this drug on DA release, probably via a non-mu subtype of opioid receptors located on nigro-striatal DA neurones.