Dysfunction of the dopaminergic pathway has been postulated to underlie the symptomatology of Tourette's syndrome. Presynaptic functional integrity of dopaminergic terminals was assessed with 18F-dopa PET in 10 patients with Tourette's syndrome, three of whom were drug free and seven of whom were on neuroleptic treatment. Dopamine D2 receptor site density was measured with 11C-raclopride PET in a further group of five drug free patients with Tourette's syndrome. Mean caudate and putamen 18F-dopa influx constants were similar in patients with Tourette's syndrome and controls, and there was no difference in striatal 18F-dopa uptake between the treated and untreated Tourette's syndrome groups. Mean caudate and putamen 11C-raclopride binding potentials in patients with Tourette's syndrome were also similar to control values. The findings suggest that striatal metabolism of exogenous levodopa and the density of striatal D2 receptors are both normal in patients with Tourette's syndrome and that Tourette's syndrome does not arise from a primary dysfunction of dopaminergic terminals.