Clinical reports and animal experiments indicate that both cocaine administration and cocaine withdrawal increase anxiety. We investigated the ability of a number of putative anxiolytic agents to alleviate these anxiety states using the elevated plus-maze. Rats in the cocaine condition received either saline or cocaine (20 mg/kg) 40 min prior to testing; those in the withdrawal condition were tested 48 h following a chronic treatment regime (saline or cocaine 20 mg/kg per day for 14 days). Prior to testing, animals received a benzodiazepine (1.0 or 2.0 mg/kg diazepam), a serotonergic agonist (0.5 or 1.0 mg/kg buspirone), an antihistamine (50 mg/kg dimenhydrinate or 27 mg/kg diphenhydramine) or a saline injection. All drugs were administered intraperitoneally. Cocaine administration and cocaine withdrawal reduced the percentage time spent on and the number of entries into the open arms. Diazepam dose-dependently alleviated cocaine withdrawal-induced anxiety and non-significantly attenuated cocaine-induced anxiety. Buspirone, dimenhydrinate and diphenhydramine did not consistently alleviate the anxiety caused by either cocaine pre-treatment regime; in the saline conditions, however, each of these treatments was anxiogenic. In summary, benzodiazepines alleviated cocaine-induced anxiety, while future research on the ability of serotonergic and antihistaminergic drugs to alleviate these anxiety states is warranted.