1. This study examined the effects of chronic exposure of rats to 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA) on [(3)H]5-hydroxytryptamine ([(3)H]5-HT) re-uptake into purified rat brain synaptosomes, 5-HT-induced isometric contraction of aortic rings and [(3)H]5-HT re-uptake into rat aorta. 2. Rats were administered MDMA (20 mg kg(-1) i.p.) twice daily over 4 days. One, 7, 14 or 21 days post treatment, whole brain synaptosomes and descending thoracic aortic rings were prepared for investigation. 3. Chronic MDMA treatment significantly reduced the maximum rate (V(max)) of specific high-affinity [(3)H]5-HT re-uptake 1 day after treatment and for up to 21 days post-final administration of MDMA. Direct application of MDMA (100 microM) abolished synaptosomal re-uptake of [(3)H]5-HT in vitro. 4. Chronic MDMA administration significantly reduced the maximum contraction (E(max)) to 5-HT at 1 and 7 days after treatment, but not at 14 or 21 days. 5. Chronic MDMA administration had no effect on sodium-dependent [(3)H]5-HT re-uptake into aorta 1 day after treatment, nor did 100 microM MDMA have any direct effect on [(3)H]5-HT uptake into aortic rings in vitro. 6. These results show, for the first time, an altered responsiveness of vascular tissue to MDMA after chronic administration. In addition, they demonstrate a difference in the sensitivity of central and peripheral 5-HT uptake systems to chronic MDMA exposure, and suggest that the action of MDMA in the cardiovascular system does not arise from a direct effect of MDMA on peripheral 5-HT transport.