Neuropeptide Y (NPY) has been shown to modulate synaptic transmission in both peripheral and central tissues via both pre- and postsynaptic mechanisms. In this study, we examined the effect of NPY and its analog, peptide YY (PYY), on slow synaptic potentials in the dorsal raphe nucleus in vitro using intracellular recording and single- microelectrode voltage-clamp techniques. NPY and PYY inhibited both the slow 5-HT1A receptor-mediated IPSP and the alpha 1-adrenoceptor- mediated slow EPSP while not affecting the fast, amino acid-mediated synaptic responses. PYY also inhibited pharmacologically isolated slow synaptic responses. NPY/PYY appear to mediate the observed inhibitions via a presynaptic mechanism, as the postsynaptic conductances mediated by activation of 5-HT1A receptors or alpha 1-adrenoceptors were unaffected by the peptides. NPY/PYY act via a different mechanism than presynaptic 5-HT1B receptors. NPY/PYY probably act via presynaptic Y2 receptors, as the C-terminal fragment NPY 13–36 and the Y2-selective agonist C2-NPY are effective. Since NPY and its receptors are present in the dorsal raphe nucleus, this peptide may act as an endogenous modulator of the state of activity of neurons in this region and may thus have a role in the modulation of neuronal output from this nucleus.