The role of dopamine in the rewarding aspects of sexual behaviour in female rats was investigated. This is a unique model because sexual behaviour is only rewarding when copulatory stimuli are experienced at the preferred rate of copulation for a female rat. In addition, increases in dopamine in the nucleus accumbens occur during sexual behaviour only when the female achieves this preferred rate of copulation. In this study, minute-by-minute changes in nucleus accumbens dopamine were monitored using in vivo microdialysis. We report here that extracellular dopamine in the nucleus accumbens increases before coital stimulation only when sexual behaviour is occurring under conditions that are rewarding to the female rat. We conclude that increases in dopamine in the nucleus accumbens are involved in anticipation, not consummation, of sexual behaviour in the female rat.