Abstract: The neurotoxic action of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP) has been proposed to be attenuated by sequestration into intracellular vesicles by the vesicular monoamine transporter (VMAT2). The purpose of this study was to determine if mice with genetically reduced levels of VMAT2 (heterozygote knockout; VMAT2 +/−) were more vulnerable to MPTP. Striatal dopamine (DA) content, the levels of DA transporter (DAT) protein, and the expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) mRNA, a marker of gliosis, were assessed as markers of MPTP neurotoxicity. In all parameters measured VMAT2 +/− mice were more sensitive than their wild-type littermates (VMAT2 +/+). Administration of MPTP (7.5, 15, or 30 mg/kg, b.i.d.) resulted in dose-dependent reductions in striatal DA levels in both VMAT2 +/− and VMAT2 +/+ animals, but the neurotoxic potency of MPTP was approximately doubled in the VMAT2 +/− mice: 59 versus 23% DA loss 7 days after 7.5 mg/kg dose for VMAT2 +/− and VMAT2 +/+ mice, respectively. Dopaminergic nerve terminal integrity, as assessed by DAT protein expression, also revealed more drastic reductions in the VMAT2 +/− mice: 59 versus 35% loss at 7.5 mg/kg and 95 versus 58% loss at 15 mg/kg for VMAT2 +/− and VMAT2 +/+ mice, respectively. Expression of GFAP mRNA 2 days after MPTP was higher in the VMAT2 +/− mice than in the wild-type: 15.8- versus 7.8-fold increase at 7.5 mg/kg and 20.1- versus 9.6-fold at 15 mg/kg for VMAT2 +/− and VMAT2 +/+ mice, respectively. These observations clearly demonstrate that VMAT2 +/− mice are more susceptible to the neurotoxic effects of MPTP, suggesting that VMAT2-mediated sequestration of the neurotoxin into vesicles may play an important role in attenuating MPTP toxicity in vivo.