Serotonin 5-HT(1A) receptor antagonists potentiate the effects of serotonin reuptake inhibitors on extracellular serotonin levels in a variety of brain regions. These effects are quite variable, however, with reports indicating potentiations of anywhere from 100-1900%. One factor that might impact the magnitude of such potentiations is the timing of administration of the two agents; reports in which the reuptake inhibitor is given prior to the serotonin receptor antagonist consistently report larger potentiations than reports in which the antagonist is given first. To test this relationship directly, microdialysis and electrophysiology studies were performed to assess the magnitude of increase in extracellular serotonin and changes in cellular activity produced by the serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine and the 5-HT(1A) receptor antagonist WAY-100635 under various dosing regimens. In microdialysis studies, when WAY-100635 (0.5 mg/kg s.c.) was administered 80 min after fluoxetine (10 mg/kg i.p.) the increase in serotonin was more than twice that observed when the compounds were coadministered. In electrophysiology studies in vivo, WAY-100635 reversed the depression of cell firing produced by fluoxetine when administered 30 min after fluoxetine, but when the two compounds were coadministered, a depression in firing rate was observed comparable to that produced by fluoxetine alone. In contrast, slice recording studies showed that WAY-100635 blocked the effects of fluoxetine regardless of the order of administration. These results indicate that fluoxetine and WAY-100635 can interact in a fashion not predicted by the currently accepted model. It is likely that neuronal circuitry outside of the raphe nuclei underlies this relationship.