3,4,-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA; 'ecstasy') acts at monoamine nerve terminals to alter the release and re-uptake of dopamine and 5-HT. The present study used microdialysis in awake rats to measure MDMA-induced changes in extracellular GABA in the ventral tegmental area (VTA), simultaneous with measures of extracellular dopamine (DA) in the nucleus accumbens (NAC) shell. (+)-MDMA (0, 2.5, 5 and 10 mg/kg, i.p.) increased GABA efflux in the VTA with a bell-shaped dose-response. This increase was blocked by application of TTX through the VTA probe. MDMA (5 mg/kg) increased 5-HT efflux in VTA by 1037% (p < 0.05). The local perfusion of the 5-HT(2B/2C) antagonist SB 206553 into the VTA reduced VTA GABA efflux after MDMA from a maximum of 229% to a maximum of 126% of basal values (p < 0.05), while having no effect on basal extracellular GABA concentrations. DA concentrations measured simultaneously in the NAC shell were increased from a maximum of 486% to 1320% (p < 0.05). The selective DA releaser d-amphetamine (AMPH) (4 mg/kg) also increased VTA GABA efflux (180%), did not alter 5-HT and increased NAC DA (875%) (p < 0.05), but the perfusion of SB 206553 into the VTA failed to alter these effects. These results suggest that MDMA-mediated increases in DA within the NAC shell are dampened by increases in VTA GABA subsequent to activation of 5-HT(2B/2C) receptors in the VTA.