On the basis of behavioural evidence, dopamine is found to be involved in two higher-level functions of the brain: reward-mediated learning and motor activation. In these functions dopamine appears to mediate synaptic enhancement in the corticostriatal pathway. However, in electrophysiological studies, dopamine is often reported to inhibit corticostriatal transmission. These two effects of dopamine seem incompatible. The existence of separate populations of dopamine receptors, differentially modulating cholinergic and glutamatergic synapses, suggests a possible resolution to this paradox. The synaptic enhancement which occurs in reward-mediated learning may also be involved in dopamine-mediated motor activation. The logical form of reward-mediated learning imposes constraints on which mechanisms can be considered possible. Dopamine D1 receptors may mediate enhancement of corticostriatal synapses. On the other hand, dopamine D2 receptors on cholinergic terminals may mediate indirect, inhibitory effects of dopamine on striatal neurons.