Identification of a biomarker that can inform on extracellular serotonin (5-HT) levels in the brains of living humans would enable greater understanding of the way brain circuits are modulated by serotonergic neurotransmission. Substantial evidence from studies in animals and humans indicates an inverse relationship between central 5-HT tonus and 5-HT type 4 receptor (5-HT4R) density, suggesting that 5-HT4R receptor density may be a biomarker marker for 5-HT tonus. Here, we investigated whether a 3-week administration of a selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor, expected to increase brain 5-HT levels, is associated with a decline in brain 5-HT4R binding. A total of 35 healthy men were studied in a placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blind study. Participants were assigned to receive 3 weeks of oral dosing with placebo or fluoxetine, 40 mg per day. Brain 5-HT4R binding was quantified at baseline and at follow-up with [(11)C]SB207145 positron emission tomography (PET). Three weeks of intervention with fluoxetine was associated with a 5.2% reduction in brain 5-HT4R binding (P=0.017), whereas placebo intervention did not change 5-HT4R binding (P=0.52). Our findings are consistent with a model, wherein the 5-HT4R density adjusts to changes in the extracellular 5-HT tonus. Our data demonstrate for the first time in humans that the imaging of central 5-HT4R binding may be used as an in vivo biomarker of the central 5-HT tonus.Molecular Psychiatry advance online publication, 5 November 2013; doi:10.1038/mp.2013.147.