Abstract The antibiotics X 537A and A 23187 are negatively charged divalent cation ionophores. X 537A may, in addition, be an ionophore for amines including catecholamines. The effects of these ionophores were examined on the uptake and release of dopamine by synaptosomes prepared from rat corpus striatum. Both X 537A and A 23187, at concentrations less than 0.5 μM, release both endogenous and [ 3H]-dopamine from synaptosomes. They had virtually no effect on the uptake of exogenous dopamine. These compounds act by different mechanisms. X 537A causes divalent ion-independent release in which a large fraction of the effluent consists of deaminated products. X 537A, in addition, releases [ 3H]dopamine from rat adrenal medullary chromaffin granules. The results suggest that X 537A causes release of dopamine from intrasynaptosomal storage vesicles and perhaps is acting as a catecholamine carrier across the vesicular membrane. A 23187, on the other hand, causes a Ca 2+-dependent release in which only a small fraction of the catechol in the effluent is deaminated. A 23187 has little effect on the release of [ 3H]dopamine from chromaffin granules. These results suggest that A 23187 carries Ca 2+ into the synaptosomes and thereby initiates exocytotic release.