The present study examined the effect of systemic administration of lipopolysaccharide (LPS; 100 and 250 microg/kg, i.p.) on tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) and tryptophan hydroxylase (TPH) activities in frontal cortex, striatum and midbrain of the rat. Enzyme activities were determined by measuring accumulation of the transient intermediates 5-hydroxytrptophan (5-HTP) and L-dihydroxyphenylalanine (L-DOPA) following in vivo administration of the decarboxylase inhibitor, NSD 1015. TPH activity was increased 2 hours after administration of LPS (100 and 250 microg/kg) in both frontal cortex and midbrain, and a secondary increase was seen in the midbrain 12 hours after challenge. LPS provoked an increase in TH activity in the midbrain only, and this was evident for up to 24 hours after LPS administration. Thus in addition to previous studies demonstrating that LPS increases in vivo NA, DA and 5-HT release, this study shows that LPS increases the activity of the rate-limiting enzymes responsible for their synthesis.