The regulation of the dopamine (DA) receptors is of considerable interest, in part because treatment with antipsychotic drugs is known to upregulate striatal D2-like receptors. While previous studies have focused on the regulation of striatal DA receptors, less is known about the pharmacological regulation of cortical DA receptors. The purpose of this study was to examine the regulation of DA mRNA receptor expression in the cortex compared to the striatum following treatment with antipsychotic agents. Adult male Sprague-Dawley rats were injected daily with haloperidol (2 mg/kg/day), clozapine (20 mg/kg/day) or a control vehicle for a period of 14 days. Following treatment, brains were subjected to in situ hybridization for the mRNAs encoding the five dopamine receptors; only D1, D2, and D3 receptor mRNAs were detected in these regions. Haloperidol tended to either modestly upregulate or have no effect on dopamine receptor mRNAs detected in striatal structures, while clozapine generally downregulated these mRNAs. On the other hand, in the cortex, both drugs had striking effects on D1 and D2 mRNA levels. Cortical D1 mRNA was upregulated by haloperidol, but this effect was primarily restricted to cingulate cortex; clozapine also upregulated D1 mRNA, but primarily in parietal regions. Haloperidol downregulated D2 mRNA in the majority of cortical regions, but most dramatically in frontal and cingulate regions; clozapine typically upregulated this mRNA, but primarily in regions other than frontal and cingulate cortex. These results indicate that clozapine and haloperidol each have regionally-specific effects, and differentially regulate dopamine receptor mRNA expression in striatal and cortical regions of the rat brain.