Depression and anxiety are the prevalent nonmotor symptoms that worsen quality of life for Parkinson's disease (PD) patients. Although dopamine (DA) cell loss is a commonly proposed mechanism, the reported efficacy of DA replacement therapy with L-DOPA on affective symptoms is inconsistent. To delineate the effects of DA denervation and chronic L-DOPA treatment on affective behaviors, male Sprague-Dawley rats received unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine or sham lesions and were treated daily with L-DOPA (12 mg/kg+benserazide, 15 mg/kg, subcutaneously) or vehicle (0.9% NaCl, 0.1% ascorbic acid) for 28 days before commencing investigations into anxiety (locomotor chambers, social interaction) and depression-like behaviors (forced swim test) during the OFF phase of L-DOPA. One hour after the final treatments, rats were killed and striatum, prefrontal cortex, hippocampus, and amygdala were analyzed through high-performance liquid chromatography for monoamine levels. In locomotor chambers and social interaction, DA lesions exerted mild anxiogenic effects. Surprisingly, chronic L-DOPA treatment did not improve these effects. Although DA lesion reduced climbing behaviors on day 2 of exposure to the forced swim test, chronic L-DOPA treatment did not reverse these effects. Neurochemically, L-DOPA treatment in hemiparkinsonian rats reduced norepinephrine levels in the prefrontal cortex, striatum, and hippocampus. Collectively, these data suggest that chronic L-DOPA therapy in severely DA-lesioned rats does not improve nonmotor symptoms and may impair nondopaminergic processes, indicating that long-term L-DOPA therapy does not exert necessary neuroplastic changes for improving affect. © 2010 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.