Cyclic AMP response element-binding protein (CREB) is a major transcriptional activator at the calcium and cAMP response-element (CaCRE). Phosphorylated (p)CREB facilitates gene expression in striatal neurons. Elk-1 is another transcriptional regulator at the serum response element in the upstream promoter region of the CaCRE. Elk-1 is phosphorylated by extracellular signal-regulated kinases (ERK) and may also contribute to the regulation of gene expression. To evaluate putative roles of group I metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs) in CREB, Elk-1, and ERK phosphorylation, the group I selective agonist, 3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine (DHPG), was infused into the dorsal striatum at doses of 125, 250, or 500 nmol in freely moving rats. Semi-quantitative immunohistochemistry demonstrated that DHPG significantly increased levels of pCREB, pElk-1, and pERK immunoreactivity of ipsilateral dorsal striatum in a dose dependent manner. The increased immunoreactivity by 500 nmol DHPG was significantly blocked by intrastriatal infusion of the group I selective antagonist, n-phenyl-7-(hydroxyimino)cyclopropa[b]chromen-1a-carboxamide (PHCCC, 25 nmol), but not by the group II/III antagonist, (RS)-alpha-methylserine-o-phosphate monophenyl ester (MSOPPE, 25 nmol). These data suggest that group I mGluR activation is positively linked to signaling cascades resulting in CREB, Elk-1, and ERK phosphorylation in the striatum in vivo.