Pharmacological studies suggest that neurotrophins may play a role in the effects of lithium and valproate on mood regulation. In this study, we tested the hypotheses that lithium and valproate would reverse and prevent the behavioral and biochemical effects of amphetamine, using a rat model of mania. In the reversal treatment, male Wistar rats were first administered D-amphetamine or saline for 14 days, and then, between days 8-14, rats were treated with lithium, valproate or saline. In the prevention treatment, rats were pretreated with lithium, valproate or saline, and then, between days 8-14, rats were administered D-amphetamine or saline. Locomotor behavior was assessed using the open-field task and hippocampal nerve growth factor levels were determined by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Both lithium and valproate reversed and prevented D-amphetamine-induced hyperactivity. Lithium increased nerve growth factor content in rat hippocampus in both experiments, but this effect was blocked with the co-administration of D-amphetamine. No significant effects on nerve growth factor levels were observed with valproate or D-amphetamine alone. These findings suggest that nerve growth factor may play a role in the neurotrophic effects of lithium but do not support the hypotheses that the nerve growth factor/TrkA pathway is involved in the pathophysiology of bipolar disorder.