Positive motivational properties of opioids, stimulants and serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors have been reported following place preference conditioning. The possibility that these effects are associated with changes in dopamine concentration in the nucleus accumbens or striatum was investigated. Male Wistar rats were place conditioned in a three compartment model to vehicle or drug (morphine 2.5 mg/kg, cocaine 5 mg/kg, sertraline 5 mg/kg or paroxetine 15 mg/kg) alternately for 8 days using a 30 min pre-treatment time. Control animals received saline only. Nucleus accumbens and striatal tissue were dissected 72 h after final drug dose, and the concentration of dopamine and its metabolites determined using high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC). Striatal dopamine D1-like receptor density was also determined through radioligand binding. Significant place preference (P<0.05) was observed with morphine, cocaine and sertraline. Morphine treated subjects showed a significant decrease (P<0.05) in striatal dopamine concentration, whilst cocaine and sertraline treatment resulted in a significant increase in striatal dopamine levels. Nucleus accumbens concentrations of dopamine, and striatal dopamine D1-like receptor density remained unchanged. The changes in striatal dopamine concentrations are consistent with withdrawal from opioid and stimulant compounds, and suggest that place preference conditioning may, in part, result from negative motivational or aversive effects.