The dorsomedial hypothalamus (DMH) drives the responses of the sympathetic nervous system to psychosocial stress; however, its inputs are not well understood. Kataoka et al. identified inputs to the rat DMH from the dorsal peduncular cortex and dorsal tenia tecta (DP/DTT). Social defeat stress induced cardiovascular and thermogenic sympathetic stress responses that were diminished by pharmacological or optogenetic inactivation of the DP/DTT, and mimicked through photostimulation of the DP/DTT. This DP/DTT–DMH circuit could be a potential target for treating stress-related disorders.