The present study has examined the glycine/N-methyl-D-aspartate antagonist, L-701-324 [7-chloro-4-hydroxy-3-(3-phenoxy)-phenyl-2 (H)quinolone] in rodent behavioral tests commonly used to predict antipsychotic potential and side effect liability in humans. Pretreatment with L-701,324 dose-dependently antagonized amphetamine-induced hyperactivity in the mouse (ED50 = 1.12 +/- 0.45 mg/kg p.o.), an effect which was similar to that of the classical neuroleptic, haloperidol, and the atypical neuroleptic, clozapine. In addition, p.o. administration of L-701,324 (2.5 or 5 mg/kg) attenuated the hyperactivity response induced by amphetamine infusion into the rat nucleus accumbens. In contrast to haloperidol, however, stereotyped sniffing and licking/biting, induced by either the systemic administration of apomorphine or infusion of amphetamine into the striatum, was not altered in rats pretreated with L-701,324 (30 or 100 mg/kg p.o.). Furthermore, L-701,324 failed to impair spontaneous locomotor activity or induce catalepsy in the mouse at doses > or = 100 mg/kg. Although a significant reduction in spontaneous activity was observed in rats pretreated with L-701,324, the minimum effective dose (10 mg/kg p.o.) was 2-fold greater than that which abolished amphetamine-induced hyperactivity in this species. Thus, L-701,324 selectively blocks behaviors associated with the activation of the mesolimbic dopamine system suggesting that glycine/N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonists may offer a novel approach to the treatment of schizophrenia in humans.