Neonatal (postnatal days 8-21) exposure of rats to the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI), citalopram, results in persistent changes in behavior including decreased sexual activity in adult animals. We hypothesized that this effect was a consequence of abnormal stimulation of 5-HT(1A) and/or 5-HT(1B) receptors as a result of increased synaptic availability of serotonin during a critical period of development. We examined whether neonatal exposure to a 5-HT(1A) (8OH-DPAT) or a 5-HT(1B) (CGS 12066B) receptor agonist can mimic the effect of neonatal exposure to citalopram on adult sexual behavior. Results showed that neonatal treatment with 5-HT(1B) receptor agonist robustly impaired sexual behavior similar to the effect of citalopram, whereas exposure to 5-HT(1A) receptor agonist only moderately influenced male sexual activity in adult animals. These data support the hypothesis that stimulation of serotonin autoreceptors during development contributes to the adult sexual deficit in rats neonatally exposed to citalopram.