Interaction with dopamine D2-like receptors plays a major role in the therapeutic effects of antipsychotic drugs. We examined in vivo dopamine D2 receptor occupancy of various established and potential antipsychotics in mouse striatum and olfactory tubercles 1 h after administration of the compound, using [3H]nemonapride as a ligand. All the compounds reduced in vivo binding of [3H]nemonapride in the striatum. When administered systemically, conventional antipsychotics, D2 antagonists, nemonapride (ID50 0.034 mg/kg), eticlopride (0.047), haloperidol (0.11) and raclopride (0.11) potently inhibited [3H]nemonapride binding. The 'atypical' antipsychotics, risperidone (0.18), ziprasidone (0.38), aripiprazole (1.6), olanzapine (0.99), and clozapine (11.1) were less potent for occupying D2-like receptors. New compounds, displaying marked agonism at 5-HT1A receptors in addition to D2 receptor affinity, exhibited varying D2 receptor occupancy bifeprunox (0.25), SLV313 (0.78), SSR181507 (1.6) and sarizotan (6.7). ID50 values for inhibition of [3H]nemonapride binding in the striatum correlated with those in the olfactory tubercles (r=0.95, P<0.0001). These values also correlated with previously-reported in vitro affinity of the compounds at rat D2 receptors (r=0.85, P=0.0001) and with inhibition of apomorphine-induced climbing in mice (r=0.79 P=0.0005). In contrast, there was no significant correlation between ID50 values herein and previously-reported ED50 values for catalepsy in mice. These data indicate that (1) there is no difference in D2 receptor occupancy in limbic versus striatal regions between most classical and atypical or potential antipsychotics; and (2) high occupancy of D2 receptors can be dissociated from catalepsy, if the drugs also activate 5-HT1A receptors. Taken together, these data support the strategy of simultaneously targeting D2 receptor blockade and 5-HT1A receptor activation for new antipsychotics.