Hepatic encephalopathy (HE) is characterized by motor symptoms associated with disturbed functions of the dopaminergic systems, but the underlying mechanisms are not clear. A previous study from our laboratories revealed that HE, induced in rats by repeated treatment with thioacetamide, enhanced the 50 mM potassium (KCl) -stimulated release of newly loaded [3H]dopamine in both striatal and frontal cerebral cortical slices in the presence of Ca2+. In the present study we compared the effects of HE on dopamine release in striatal and frontal cerebral cortical slices and synaptosomes in the presence and absence of Ca2+. HE enhanced the KCl-stimulated [3H]dopamine release from striatal and frontal cortical synaptosomes in the presence of Ca2+ to the same extent as in slices prepared from the respective brain regions. In the absence of Ca2+ a slight reduction in dopamine release was observed in frontal cortical synaptosomes from HE rats when compared to control rats, while no effect of HE on the release was discernible in frontal cortical and striatal slices and striatal synaptosomes. We conclude that in both brain regions studied HE stimulates dopamine exocytosis triggered by Ca2+ influx without affecting the release mediated by means of plasma membrane transporters or exocytosis involving intraterminal Ca2+.