In the present study, we examined whether exposing rats to a high-dose regimen of manganese chloride (Mn) during the postnatal period would depress presynaptic dopamine functioning and alter nonassociative and associative behaviors. To this end, rats were given oral supplements of Mn (750 microg/day) on postnatal days (PD) 1-21. On PD 90, dopamine transporter (DAT) immunoreactivity and [3H]dopamine uptake were assayed in the striatum and nucleus accumbens, while in vivo microdialysis was used to measure dopamine efflux in the same brain regions. The effects of postnatal Mn exposure on nigrostriatal functioning were evaluated by assessing rotorod performance and amphetamine-induced stereotypy in adulthood. In terms of associative processes, both cocaine-induced conditioned place preference (CPP) and sucrose-reinforced operant responding were examined. Results showed that postnatal Mn exposure caused persistent declines in DAT protein expression and [3H]dopamine uptake in the striatum and nucleus accumbens, as well as long-term reductions in striatal dopamine efflux. Rotorod performance did not differ according to exposure condition, however Mn-exposed rats did exhibit substantially more amphetamine-induced stereotypy than vehicle controls. Mn exposure did not alter performance on any aspect of the CPP task (preference, extinction, or reinstatement testing), nor did Mn affect progressive ratio responding (a measure of motivation). Interestingly, acquisition of a fixed ratio task was impaired in Mn-exposed rats, suggesting a deficit in procedural learning. In sum, these results indicate that postnatal Mn exposure causes persistent declines in various indices of presynaptic dopaminergic functioning. Mn-induced alterations in striatal functioning may have long-term impact on associative and nonassociative behavior.