The influence of nigrostriatal cell firing on the dopamine transporter (DAT) activity of the rat striatum was studied in vivo with amperometric methods. Data were obtained after preventing dopamine (DA) release with α-methyl-l-tyrosine and replenishing extracellular DA with local injections. The DA cell stimulation, which under basal conditions increased extracellular DA, decreased DA after this pre-treatment, suggesting that firing activity facilitates the DA cell uptake of DA under these circumstances (drain response). Cocaine and GBR13069 markedly decreased the drain response, suggesting that it is dependent on DAT activation. Data obtained after haloperidol and apomorphine administration showed that the drain response was facilitated by pre-synaptic DA receptor stimulation but that receptors are not a necessary requirement. Two components in the drain response were observed, one with a short latency and duration that needed high-frequency stimuli, and the other with a long latency and duration that was even induced by low-frequency stimuli. This is the first evidence showing that DAT can be activated by the firing activity in nigrostriatal cells in a direct way and without the participation of pre-synaptic DA receptors.