Abstract The extracellular responses of neurones in the neostriatum following single pulse stimulation of the substantia nigra were investigated in urethane anaesthetized rats. Low intensity stimulation (< 10 V) evoked single large amplitude spikes while higher intensities (10–20 V) elicit a high frequency burst of small amplitude spikes or waves. When spontaneous or glutamate-induced large spikes are recorded, nigral stimulation causes their inhibition coincidentally with the development of a burst. If the burst is prevented, the inhibitory response disappears. Both the nigral evoked inhibition and burst response are unaffected by iontophoretically or systemically administered antagonists of dopamine or by chemical lesions of the dopamine-containing nigral neurones. The monosynaptic activation of large amplitude striatal neurones, which could also be identified antidromically by stimulation of the globus pallidus, was reversibly blocked by dopamine antagonists. It is concluded (a) that the burst responses are induced through the antidromic excitation of striatonigral axons within the striatum; (b) that the striatal neurones thus activated are inhibitory interneurones and (c) that the dopamine-containing neurones of the nigra make excitatory synaptic contact with a population of striatal output cells, some of which at least project to the globus pallidus.