Tardive dyskinesia has been connected with regional reductions of GABA functions in the basal ganglia. In view of the possibility that peptides are involved in neuroleptic-induced dyskinesias substance P and dynorphin A levels were measured in the basal ganglia of the Cebus apella model for tardive dyskinesia. In addition, regional glutamate decarboxylase activities, dopamine, homovanillic acid and dihydroxyphenylacetic acid levels were monitored. A significant dyskinesia-related decrease in glutamate decarboxylase activity was found in the subthalamic nucleus, the medial segment of globus pallidus and the rostral part of substantia nigra in accordance with earlier findings. Cebus monkeys with an intact GABA system (neuroleptic-treated controls without dyskinesia) showed increased levels of substance P and homovanillic acid in the caudate nucleus. The changes were confined to the caudal part of the body of the caudate and the nucleus accumbens. On the other hand, the dyskinetic monkeys, with a defective GABA system, did not demonstrate a similar substance P rise in the caudate or nucleus accumbens, but showed a depression of homovanillic acid levels in the caudal part of the body of the caudate nucleus. Dynorphin A, dopamine and dihydroxyphenylacetic acid showed no dyskinesia-related changes. In conclusion, the difference in glutamate decarboxylase activity between animals developing dyskinetic symptoms vs those who did not, was reflected by regional changes in substance P and homovanillic acid levels.