The physiological effects of pineal melatonin are primarily mediated by melatonin receptors located in the brain and periphery. Even though there are a number of studies demonstrating the regulatory role of melatonin in the development of dopaminergic behaviors, such as psychostimulant-induced diurnal locomotor sensitization or drug seeking, little is known about the contribution of melatonin receptors (i.e., MT1) to this role. Therefore, as a first step in understanding the functional role of melatonin receptors in dopaminergic behaviors, we focused on determining the expression pattern of MT1 receptors in the dopaminergic system of the human and rodent brain. Regional (e.g., nucleus accumbens shell) and cellular (e.g., tyrosine hydroxylase immunopositive cells) expression of MT1 mRNA was characterized by applying the immuno-laser capture microdissection (immuno-LCM) technique coupled with nested RT-PCR. Moreover, employing quantitative Western immunoblotting and RT-PCR, we found that the mouse MT1 receptor expression presents diurnal variations (i.e., low mRNA and high protein levels at night, ZT21). The dopaminergic system-based presence of MT1 receptor proteins was not limited to rodents; we found these receptors in postmortem human brain as well. Further research is needed to understand the regional/cellular functional role of melatonin receptors in the regulation of dopaminergic behaviors, using models such as melatonin receptor knockout mice. © 2005 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.