The role of monoaminergic neuromodulators in the reorganization of cortical topography following limited sensory deprivation in the adult cat was investigated. The total concentrations of dopamine, noradrenaline, serotonin and their major metabolites were measured in the visual cortex of both normal control and experimental animals using microbore high-performance liquid chromatography coupled with electrochemical detection. The experimental animals were subjected to a binocular retinal lesion corresponding to the central 10 degrees of vision and killed two weeks post-lesion. The sensory deprivation was confirmed in area 17 by measuring immediate-early gene zif-268 messenger RNA expression. Following the retinal lesion, the total concentrations of noradrenaline and dopamine were significantly higher in the non-deprived cortex of retinal lesion cats than in the deprived cortex of retinal lesion cats and the cortex of normal animals. This pattern follows the release of the excitatory neurotransmitter glutamate under the same conditions. Serotonin levels were significantly lower in the deprived cortex, and its metabolite 5-hydroxyindole-3-acetic acid was significantly higher in the non-deprived cortex than in deprived cortex and normal cortex.