The influence of genetic factors on psychological traits and disorders has been repeatedly demonstrated; however, the molecular mechanisms underlying such an influence remain largely unknown. Anxiety-related disorders constitute the most common class of mental disorder in humans, with women being diagnosed far more frequently than men. A better understanding of the genetic and gender-related mechanisms mediating anxiety traits should enable the development of more rational methods for preventing and treating anxiety disorders. In this study we have aimed to identify, for the first time, quantitative trait loci (QTL) influencing anxiety/emotionality-related traits in rats. To this end, two strains-Lewis (LEW) and Spontaneously Hypertensive Rats (SHR)-that differ for several behavioral measures of anxiety/emotionality were intercrossed. A QTL analysis of the F2 population revealed suggestive loci for various traits, including behaviors in the elevated plus-maze and blood pressure. In addition, one major QTL explaining 50.4% of the total variance (LOD = 7.22) was identified on chromosome 4 for the locomotion in the central and aversive area of the open field. Two other relevant QTLs have been recently mapped near this chromosomic region in the rat, which also harbors Tac1r, the gene encoding for the substance P receptor. Our major QTL affected females but not males and its effect depended on the type of cross (LEW or SHR grandmothers). The present results reveal a complex genetic basis underlying emotional behaviors and they confirm the existence of interactions between genetic factors and sex for this kind of trait. Further investigation of the loci identified herein may give clues to the pathophysiology of psychiatric disorders such as anxiety-related ones.