Methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) is a phenylethylamine with novel mood-altering properties in humans. MDMA shares the dopamine-releasing properties of amphetamine but has been found to be a more potent releaser of serotonin (5-HT). The present study undertook to determine the relative roles of dopamine and 5-HT release in MDMA-induced locomotor hyperactivity. S-(+)MDMA produced dose-dependent increases of rat locomotion. Investigatory behaviors such as holepokes and rearings were suppressed by (+)MDMA. Pretreatment with the selective 5-HT uptake inhibitors fluoxetine, sertraline and zimelidine inhibited (+)MDMA-induced locomotor hyperactivity but failed to antagonize the reduction of holepokes and rearings. Because 5-HT uptake inhibitors have been found previously to block the MDMA-induced release of 5-HT in vitro, and because fluoxetine was found to have no effect on (+)amphetamine-induced hyperactivity, the present results suggest that (+) MDMA-induced locomotor hyperactivity is dependent on release of endogenous 5-HT. Additionally, prior depletion of central 5-HT with p-chlorophenylalanine partially antagonized the (+)MDMA-induced hyperactivity, although catecholamine synthesis inhibition with alpha-methyl-p-tyrosine did not block the effects of (+)MDMA. Taken together, these studies suggest that (+)MDMA increases locomotor activity via mechanisms that are dependent on the release of central 5-HT and that are qualitatively different from the mechanism of action of (+)amphetamine.