Laser-Doppler flowmetry was used to study cerebral cortical blood flow responses to morphine and naloxone in morphine-naive and -dependent rats. The experiments were performed in spontaneously breathing anesthetized rats. Morphine (10 mg/kg, i.p.) administration reduced regional cerebral blood flow in control, sham-operated and morphine-dependent rats, but the depressant effect of morphine in morphine-dependent animals was less than that in control and sham-operated groups. While naloxone (0.5 mg/kg, s.c.) had no considerable effect on regional cerebral blood flow in control and sham-operated groups, it increased regional blood flow in morphine dependent ones. The depressant effect of morphine in all groups and the enhancing effect of naloxone in morphine-dependent animals were not seen after local application of lidocaine at the recording site. This study may provide a framework to study the cellular and molecular mechanisms responsible for coupling neuronal electrical activity with regional alterations in blood flow during precipitation of morphine withdrawal.