REM sleep deprivation (REMSD) induces augmented responses to dopaminergic agonists. Prolonged administration of neuroleptics induces a similar state, probably by the production of supersensitivity of dopaminergic receptors. Such a supersensitive state could be induced by REMSD as a result of impairment of dopamine neurotransmission. In order to test this hypothesis, bromocriptine, nomifensine, amphetamine, L-dopa, imipramine and electroconvulsive shock (ECS) were administered to rats during REMSD, and aggressive and stereotyped behaviors were measured. Amphetamine and L-dopa pretreatment attenuated the increases in apomorphine-induced stereotypy and aggression in REMSD rats, but ECS selectively reduced apomorphine-induced aggression. The other drugs tested were ineffective on both behavioral tests. Such a selective action may reflect different effects of ECS on different dopaminergic systems such as those involved with stereotypy and aggression. The results suggest that REMSD induces an increase in dopaminergic sensitivity which may be reversed by pretreatment with some dopaminergic agonists.