BACKGROUND L-threo-3,4-dihydroxyphenylserine (L-DOPS), a norepinephrine (NE) prodrug, is investigational for orthostatic hypotension, which occurs commonly in Parkinson's disease. Adjunctive anti-parkinsonian drugs might interact with L-DOPS. We tested whether L-aromatic amino-acid decarboxylase inhibition by carbidopa (CAR) attenuates L-DOPS conversion to NE and blocks the pressor effect of L-DOPS, whereas catechol-O-methyltransferase inhibition by entacapone (ENT) interferes with L-DOPS metabolism and augments the pressor effect. METHODS Twelve patients with autonomic failure took 400 mg of L-DOPS with 200 mg of placebo (PLA), CAR, or ENT on different days. Plasma L-DOPS, NE, and deaminated NE metabolites (dihydroxyphenylglycol [DHPG], dihydroxymandelic acid [DHMA]) were measured. RESULTS L-DOPS+PLA and L-DOPS+ENT increased systolic pressure similarly (by 27 ± 8 and 24 ± 9 mm Hg at 3 hours). L-DOPS+CAR did not increase pressure. The peak increase in plasma NE (0.57 ± 0.11 nmol/L) averaged less than 1/15,000 th that in L-DOPS and less than 1/35th that in DHPG+DHMA. CAR prevented and ENT augmented responses of plasma DHPG and DHMA to L-DOPS. CONCLUSIONS After L-DOPS administration plasma, NE levels do not increase sufficiently to increase blood pressure. Pressor responses to L-DOPS seem to reflect NE produced extraneuronally that escapes extensive enzymatic deamination and O-methylation and evokes vasoconstriction before reaching the systemic circulation.