The classical animal models of Parkinsons disease (PD) rely on the use of neurotoxins, including 1-methyl-4-phenyl-1,2,3,6- tetrahydropyridine (MPTP), 6-hydroxydopamine and, more recently, the agricultural chemicals paraquat and rotenone, to deplete dopamine (DA). These neurotoxins elicit motor deficits in different animal species although MPTP fails to induce a significant dopaminergic neurodegeneration in rats. In the attempt to better reproduce the key features of PD, in particular the progressive nature of neurodegeneration, alternative PD models have been developed, based on the genetic and neuropathological links between α-synuclein (α-syn) and PD. In vivo microdialysis was used to investigate extracellular striatal DA dynamics in MPTP- and α-syn-generated rodent models of PD. Acute and sub-acute MPTP intoxication of mice both induce prolonged release of striatal DA. Such DA release may be considered the first step in MPTP-induced striatal DA depletion and nigral neuron death, mainly through reactive oxygen species generation. Although MPTP induces DA reduction, neurochemical and motor recovery starts immediately after the end of treatment, suggesting that compensatory mechanisms are activated. Thus, the MPTP mouse model of PD may be unsuitable for closely reproducing the features of the human disease and predicting potential long-term therapeutic effects, in terms of both striatal extracellular DA and behavioral outcome. In contrast, the α-syn-generated rat model of PD does not suffer from a massive release of striatal DA during induction of the nigral lesion, but rather is characterized by a prolonged reduction in baseline DA and nicotine-induced increases in dialysate DA levels. These results are suggestive of a stable nigrostriatal lesion with a lack of dopaminergic neurochemical recovery. The α-syn rat model thus reproduces the initial stage and slow development of PD, with a time-dependent impairment in motor function. This article will describe the above experimental PD models and demonstrate the utility of microdialysis for their characterization.