Since the posterior hypothalamus (PH) plays a key role in the control of body temperature, the aim of this study was to evaluate the changes in adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine levels in the PH during the hyperthermia induced by prostaglandin E(1) (PGE(1)). The concentration of adrenaline, noradrenaline and dopamine in the PH, the firing rate of the sympathetic nerves innervating interscapular brown adipose tissue (IBAT), IBAT and colonic temperatures (T(IBAT) and T(C)) were monitored in 12 urethane-anaesthetized male Sprague-Dawley rats before and after an intracerebroventricular injection of 500 ng PGE(1) dissolved in 2 microl of 0.9% NaCl saline solution or only saline. The catecholamines were collected using a microdialysis probe and quantified by HPLC. The results showed that PGE(1) caused a significant increment in the concentration of adrenaline from 15. 83+/-2.69 to 34.95+/-3.9 ng ml(-1) and of dopamine from 35.15+/-4.48 to 55.68+/-6.21 ng ml(-1). A significant decrease in the level of noradrenaline from 18.75+/-2.05 to 8.56+/-2.26 ng ml(-1) was registered. The firing rate of sympathetic nerves to IBAT was increased from 100+/-0% to 204.83+/-15.22% by PGE(1). T(IBAT) and T(C) rose respectively from 36.91+/-0.15 degrees C to 38.88+/-0.29 degrees C, and from 36.7+/-0.15 degrees C to 38.13+/-0.36 degrees C after the injection of PGE(1). The changes in adrenaline and noradrenaline occurred during the first 20 min as did the changes in temperature and firing rate, while the change in dopamine was delayed until 21-60 min after the PGE(1) injection. No significant change of analyzed variables was found in the control rats. These findings suggest that these biogenic amines of the PH are involved in the control of the sympathetic and thermogenic changes induced by PGE(1).