Lateral hypothalamus (LH) stimulation in cats which do not spontaneously attack rats, produces an attack pattern which may be divided into 3 main stages: the first, defined as exploratory time (ET), begins with an environmental search and culminates in orienting towards the prey; in the second, defined as attack time (AT), the cat stalks the rat; the last is the biting stage in which the cat seizes and kills the prey by biting its head and neck. The effects of ventral tegmental area (VTA) stimulation on the latency of the whole sequence and on the different stages of the attack pattern were studied. VTA activation resulted in a significant decrease of biting latency, due to the reduction of exploratory time. Moreover, a significant period of prey fixation, seldom present during LH stimulation alone, was observed after VTA-LH co-stimulation. Sulpiride injection caused the disappearance of VTA effects on the predatory pattern. The results indicate that VTA activation induces a decrease in behaviour related to exploration of the environment, and an increase in the focusing of attention on the prey, which seems an important component in the regulation of the predatory pattern. Pharmacological evidence indicates that the VTA effect is mediated by the mesolimbic-mesocortical dopaminergic (DA) system.