Abstract Using quantitative in situ hybridization, this study examined regional changes in rat brain mRNA levels encoding neuropeptide Y (NPY) following olanzapine, clozapine and haloperidol administration (1.2, 1.5 and 2.0 mg/kg, oral) for 36 days. The NPY mRNA expression levels and patterns were examined after the last drug administration at both time points enabling the measurement of immediate effect at 2 h and the effects after 48 h of drug administration. It was found that all these drugs had an immediate effect on NPY mRNA expression, while virtually all these changes normalized 48 h after the drug treatments. A similarity in altered NPY mRNA expression patterns was seen between the olanzapine and clozapine groups; however, haloperidol was very different. Olanzapine and clozapine administration decreased NPY mRNA levels in the nucleus accumbens, striatum and anterior cingulate cortex (from −60% to −77%, p < 0.05). Haloperidol decreased NPY mRNA expression in the amygdala and hippocampus (−69%, −64%, p < 0.05). In the lateral septal nucleus, NPY mRNA levels significantly decreased in the olanzapine group (−66%, p < 0.05), a trend toward a decrease was observed in the clozapine group, and no change was found in the haloperidol treated group. These results suggest that the different effects of atypical and typical antipsychotics on NPY systems may reflect the neural chemical mechanisms responsible for the differences between these drugs in their effects in treating positive and negative symptoms of schizophrenia. The immediate decrease of NPY mRNA levels suggests an immediate reduction of NPY biosynthesis in response to these drugs.