The medial prefrontal cortex (mPFC) controls emotional responses in many species,receiving serotonergic innervation from the dorsal and median raphe nucleus (DRN and MRN). To examine the sex difference in 24-h profiles of extracellular serotonin (5HT) levels in the mPFC, an in vivo microdialysis study was performed using intact male, diestrous female, and proestrous female rats. Dialysates were automatically collected by a microdialysis probe from the mPFC every 30 min for more than 24 h under freely moving conditions. The levels of 5HT in dialysates were quantified by high performance liquid chromatography. Extracellular 5HT levels exhibited episodic changes in the mPFC of both sexes of rats, with both diestrous and proestrous females exhibiting a clear diurnal change;the 5HT levels were high during the dark phase, but low during the light phase. In contrast,male rats exhibited relatively high 5HT levels throughout the day without significant diurnal changes. At mathematically analyzed trough, males showed higher 5HT levels than diestrous or proestrous females. The overall 24-h 5HT levels in males were significantly greater than proestrous females, but were not different from diestrous females. Further,stereological methods were used to examine the number of tryptophan hydroxylase (TrpH),but no sex differences in the number of TrpH immunoreactive cells in the DRN and MRN were observed. These results suggest that sex and/or the gonadal steroid environment may affect the 24-h profile of extracellular 5HT in the mPFC of rats without changes in the number of 5HT neurons in the DRN and MRN.