More effective measures to control and replace the dopaminergic deficit of Parkinson's disease are being actively sought. One basic problem is how the striatal dopamine loss should be replaced in order to mimic most accurately the physiological state. Animal electrophysiology indicates that the dopaminergic nigrostriatal pathway has a dual tonic and phasic action. Intermittent dopaminergic stimulation is associated with behavioural hyposensitivity both in animal models and in patients with Parkinson's disease. Continuous dopaminergic stimulation provides a tonic background and improves some clinical problems but is also associated with tolerance. None of the available pharmacological approaches can restore the dopamine deficiency of Parkinson's disease to physiological levels. Continuous dopaminergic stimulation for <24 h, associated with small doses of levodopa or a short-acting dopamine agonist, appears to be the best, albeit imperfect, therapeutic approach until other, more efficacious remedies are developed.