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The pathophysiology of idiopathic dystonia is still unknown, but it is regarded as a basal ganglia disorder. Previous studies indicated an involvement of a striatal GABAergic disinhibition and a cortico-striatal glutamatergic overactivity in the manifestation of stress-inducible dystonic episodes in the dt(sz) hamster, a model of idiopathic paroxysmal dystonia. These investigations were carried out postmortem or in anesthetized animals. In the present study, in vivo microdialysis in conscious, freely-moving dt(sz) and non-dystonic control hamsters was used to examine the levels of GABA, aspartate, glutamate, glutamine, glycine and taurine in each animal during following conditions: (1) at baseline in the absence of dystonia, (2) during an episode of paroxysmal dystonia precipitated by stressful stimuli, (3) during a recovery period and (4) at baseline after complete recovery. In comparison to non-dystonic controls, which were treated in the same manner as the dystonic animals, no differences could be detected under basal conditions. The induction of a dystonic episode in mutant hamsters led to higher contents of glycine in these animals in comparison to stressed but non-dystonic controls. Significant changes of glycine levels within the animal groups were not detected. The levels of the excitatory amino acids glutamate, glutamine and aspartate as well as the levels of the inhibitory amino acids GABA and taurine did not differ between the animal groups or between the periods of measurement. The higher levels of glycine might contribute to the manifestation of paroxysmal dystonia in dt(sz) hamsters, although unaltered glutamate, glutamine and aspartate levels do not support the hypothesis of a critical involvement of a cortico-striatal overactivity. It seems that a deficiency of GABAergic interneurons, found by previous immunohistochemical examinations, does not lead to reduced extracellular GABA levels in the striatum.