The relative importance of synaptic versus paracrine dopamine transmission for the occurrence of functional effects following intrastriatal grafting is not fully established. In the present study we grafted cell lines, expressing the form I of human tyrosine hydroxylase after infection with a recombinant retrovirus and selection in tyrosine-free-medium, to the denervated striatum in order to analyse the extent to which extracellular dopamine levels can be restored and the effect of a diffuse release of dopamine on motor impairement in a rat model of Parkinson's disease. In petri dish, the modified fibroblast cells (NIH.3T3) release DOPA constitutively whereas the modified endocrine cells (RIN) store and release dopamine in a regulated way. Interestingly, in denervated striatum, grafts of modified fibroblast cells produce DOPA which was efficiently converted into dopamine by the host striatal tissue. In the grafted striatum, both fibroblast and endocrine cells restore subnormal levels of diffuse release of dopamine which is notably unaffected and stimulated, respectively, by high concentration of potassium, in connection with the in vitro properties of the grafted cells. The intrastriatal grafts of modified cells partially reversed the apomorphine-induced but not the amphetamine-induced motor asymmetry. We discuss the implications of these results in the context of Parkinson disease.