We used two analytic methods (a multichannel coulometric electrode array with high-performance liquid chromatography, and gas chromatography-mass spectrophotometry) to measure CSF dopamine (DA) and its metabolites in mildly affected, unmedicated subjects with Parkinson's disease (PD). The mean (+/- SD) concentration of homovanillic acid (HVA), the most abundant product of DA turnover, was 164.57 +/- 95.05 nM. As sequential aliquots of CSF were collected from the first to 23rd ml, CSF HVA concentration almost doubled. After HVA, 3-O-methyldopa (3-O-MD) was the next most abundant compound. The summed concentrations of 3-O-MD, 3,4-dihydroxyphenylacetic acid, 3-methoxytyramine, DA, DA-3-sulfate, homovanillol, and levodopa (LD) amounted to 12.6% of HVA. Concentrations of the DA metabolites did not correlate to a variety of indices of PD severity. The presence of LD and 3-O-MD may be indicators of DA synthesis and possibly could reflect compensatory processes among surviving dopaminergic neurons of the PD brain.