The position of the caudal intralaminar nuclei within basal ganglia circuitry has largely been neglected in most studies dealing with basal ganglia function. During the past few years, there has been a growing body of evidence suggesting that the thalamic parafascicular nucleus in rodents (PF) exerts a multifaceted modulation of basal ganglia nuclei, at different levels. Our aim was to study the activity of the thalamostriatal pathway in rats with unilateral dopaminergic depletion. The experimental approach comprised first unilateral delivery of 6-OHDA in the medial forebrain bundle. Thirty days post-lesioning, animals showing a clear asymmetry were then subjected to bilateral injection of Fluoro-Gold (FG) within the striatum. Subsequently, expression of the mRNA encoding the vesicular glutamate transporter 2 (vGLUT2) was detected within thalamostriatal-projecting neurons (FG-labeled) by in situ hybridization and the results were confirmed by laser-guided capture microdissection microscopy followed by real-time PCR. The data showed that there was a marked neuronal loss restricted to PF neurons projecting to the dopamine-depleted striatum. Moreover, PF neurons innervating the dopamine-depleted striatum were intensely hyperactive. These neurons showed a marked increase on the expression of vGLUT2 mRNA as well as for the mRNA encoding the subunit I of cytochrome oxidase as compared with those neurons projecting to the striatum with normal dopamine content. Thus, the selective neurodegeneration of PF neurons innervating the striatum together with the increased activity of the thalamostriatal pathway coexist after nigrostriatal denervation.