||The effect of intraperitoneal administration of tryptophan (50, 100, or 200 mg/kg) on extracellular concentrations of tryptophan, serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT), and 5-hydroxyindoleacetic acid (5-HIAA) was studied in the cortex of freely moving rats by transcerebral dialysis. Rats were implanted with dialysis probes in the frontal cortex, and experiments were performed 24 h later. Tryptophan, 5-HT, and 5-HIAA were quantified in 20-min samples of dialysate by HPLC with electrochemical detection after separation on reverse-phase columns. Tryptophan administration resulted in a significant increase of tryptophan, 5-HT, and 5-HIAA levels in dialysates. The maximal increase of 5-HT and 5-HIAA output was approximately 150% over basal values. Perfusion with Ringer's solution containing tetrodotoxin (1 microM) reduced 5-HT output by 90% and prevented the increase of 5-HT and 5-HIAA content after 100 mg/kg of tryptophan. Similar results were obtained after perfusion with Ringer's solution without Ca2+. The results indicate that a tryptophan load stimulates the physiological release of 5-HT.