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Preclinical studies with dopamine showed a unique spectrum of biological activities which suggested that it might be of therapeutic use in the clinical syndromes of shock and low cardiac output. Most prominent among these were its effects on cardiac output, renal perfusion, and vital organ flow. The unique effect on renal function and the subsequent studies by Goldberg and his colleagues led to the recognition of a previously unknown catecholamine receptor site, the 'dopaminergic receptor'. Studies on the toxicology of dopamine in our laboratories suggested that dopamine could be safely used in the clinic.