In vivo microdialysis coupled with HPLC and radioimmuno-assay techniques were used to analyze dopamine (DA) and neurotensin (NT) in prefrontal cortical extracellular fluid following electrical stimulation of mesocortical axons. The release (overflow into the extracellular fluid) of both DA and NT increased with increasing number of impulses and with frequency. At the lowest frequency tested (2.5 Hz), DA release was significantly increased, while there was no significant increase in the release of NT. As the frequency of stimulation was increased from 2.5 to 20 Hz, the ratio of extracellular DA:NT decreased exponentially. Stimulation in a burst pattern produced greater release of both DA and NT than tonic stimulation when the number of impulses per second and the total number of impulses were held constant. Furthermore, blockade of DA autoreceptors with sulpiride stereoselectively increased the release of DA while decreasing the release of NT. These data suggest that the release of coexistent molecules (DA and NT) from mesocortical neurons can be influenced by physiological and pharmacological factors such that under certain conditions simultaneous or differential release may occur.