We examined the somatodendritic compartment of nigral dopaminergic neurons by immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy, with the aim of identifying proteins that participate in dopamine packaging and release. Nigral dopaminergic neurons were identified by location, cellular features and tyrosine hydroxylase immunoreactivity. Immunoreactive puncta of vesicular monoamine transporter type 2 and proton ATPase, both involved in the packaging of dopamine for release, were located primarily in dopaminergic cell bodies, but were absent in distal dopaminergic dendrites. Many presynaptic proteins associated with transmitter release at fast synapses were absent in nigral dopaminergic neurons, including synaptotagmin 1, syntaxin1, synaptic vesicle proteins 2a and 2b, synaptophysin and synaptobrevin 1 (VAMP 1). On the other hand, syntaxin 3, synaptobrevin 2 (VAMP 2) and SNAP-25-immunoreactivities were found in dopaminergic somata and dendrites Our data imply that the storage and exocytosis of dopamine from the somatodendritic compartment of nigral dopaminergic neurons is mechanistically distinct from transmitter release at axon terminals utilizing amino acid neurotransmitters.