Dopamine neurons have different synaptic actions in the ventral and dorsal striatum (dStr), but whether this heterogeneity extends to dStr subregions has not been addressed. We have found that optogenetic activation of dStr dopamine neuron terminals in mouse brain slices pauses the firing of cholinergic interneurons in both the medial and lateral subregions, while in the lateral subregion the pause is shorter due to a subsequent excitation. This excitation is mediated mainly by metabotropic glutamate receptor 1 (mGluR1) and partially by dopamine D1-like receptors coupled to transient receptor potential channel 3 and 7. DA neurons do not signal to spiny projection neurons in the medial dStr, while they elicit ionotropic glutamate responses in the lateral dStr. The DA neurons mediating these excitatory signals are in the substantia nigra (SN). Thus, SN dopamine neurons engage different receptors in different postsynaptic neurons in different dStr subregions to convey strikingly different signals.