Spontaneous release of [3H]dopamine (DA) was observed from reaggregates of dissociated cells from fetal rostral mesencephalic tegmentum (RMT) containing DA neurons cocultured with their axonal target cells from striatum (CS) or frontal cortex (FCx), or with non-target cells from occipital cortex (OCx), or tectum. Such release increased in response to 50 mM K+. Tetrodotoxin (TTX) suppressed the spontaneous release from RMT-CS and RMT-FCx reaggregates by 42%; from RMT-tectum reaggregates by 24%, and did not significantly inhibit the release from RMT-OCx cocultures. Since TTX blocks spontaneous neuronal activity, these results suggest that the presence of axonal target cells enhances the activity of the dopamine neurons. DA neurons within RMT-FCx reaggregates released significantly more [3H]DA in response to 50 mM K+ than in RMT-CS cocultures. This result is in accord with the findings in vivo that inhibitory feedback mechanisms on DA release, present in the striatum, are lacking in the frontal cortex.