We investigated neurochemically and neuropathologically the utility of 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6-tetrahydropyridine (MPTP)-treated mice as a model of Parkinson's disease. The changes in dopamine D1 and D2 receptors and dopamine uptake sites were determined by quantitative autoradiography using [3H]SCH23390, [3H]raclopride and [3H]mazindol, respectively. Dopamine and 3,4-dihydroxyphenyl acetic acid (DOPAC) contents in the striatum were measured by high-performance liquid chromatography. The distribution of nigral neurons and reactive astrocytes was determined by immunohistochemical staining with antibody against tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP). The mice received four intraperitoneal injections of MPTP (10 mg/kg) at 1-h intervals and then the brains were analyzed at 3 and 7 days after the treatments. No significant change in dopamine D1 receptors was observed in the striatum and substantia nigra after acute treatment with MPTP. Dopamine D2 receptors were reduced significantly in the substantia nigra only 7 days after the MPTP treatment, whereas striatum showed no significant change in the binding throughout the experiments. In contrast, dopamine uptake sites were reduced markedly in the striatum and substantia nigra 3 and 7 days after the MPTP treatment. Dopamine and DOPAC content were also reduced in the striatum 3 and 7 days after the MPTP treatment. An immunohistochemical study indicated a loss of the number of TH-positive neurons in the substantia nigra 7 days after the MPTP treatment. In contrast, numerous GFAP-positive astrocytes were evident in the striatum 7 days after the MPTP treatment. These results provide valuable information for the pathogenesis of acute stage of Parkinson's disease.