A remarkable feature of dopamine functioning is that the concomitant activation of D1-like and D2-like receptors acts to intensify the expression of various dopamine-dependent effects, in particular the expression of the immediate-early genes, c-fos and zif268. Using non-peptide neurotensin receptor antagonists, including SR48692, we have determined that blockade of neurotensin receptors reduced the cooperative responses of direct acting D2-like (quinpirole) and partial D1-like (SKF38393) dopamine agonists on the expression of Fos-like antigens and zif268 mRNA. Pretreatment with SR48692 (3 and 10 mg/kg) reduced the number of Fos-like immunoreactive cells produced by the combined administration of SKF38393 (20 mg/kg) and quinpirole (1 mg/kg) in the caudate-putamen, nucleus accumbens, globus pallidus and ventral pallidum. High-affinity neurotensin receptors are likely to be involved in these D1-like/D2-like cooperative responses, as compounds structurally related to SR48692, SR48527 (3 mg/kg) and its (–)antipode, SR49711 (3 mg/kg), exerted a stereospecific antagonism in all selected brain regions. Pretreatment with SR48692 (10 mg/kg) also diminished Fos induction by the indirect dopamine agonist, cocaine (25 mg/kg), particularly at the rostral level of the caudate-putamen. In situ hybridization experiments in the caudate-putamen indicated that SR48692 (10 mg/kg) markedly reduced zif268 mRNA labelling produced by SKF38393 plus quinpirole in cells not expressing enkephalin mRNA, but was unable to affect the concomitant decrease of zif268 mRNA labelling in enkephalin-positive cells. Taken together, the results of the present study indicate that neurotensin is a key element for the occurrence of cooperative responses of D2-like and partial D1-like agonists on immediate-early gene expression.