Glucocorticoid receptors play an important role in the regulation of the activity of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenal axis, and are thought to be involved in the pathophysiology of depressive disorders. The present study investigated the effect of the specific glucocorticoid receptor antagonist ORG 34116 (a substituted 11,21 bisarylsteroid compound) in the tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri) chronic psychosocial stress model, an established animal model for depressive disorders. Animals were stressed for 10 days before treatment with ORG 34116 started (25 mg/kg p.o. for 28 days). Stress induced a decrease in body weight, which just failed significance, whereas ORG 34116 did not affect body weight in stress and control animals. ORG 34116 enhanced the stress-induced increase in the concentration of urinary-free cortisol, although no differences between the different experimental groups existed during the last week of treatment. In stressed animals, ORG 34116 did not affect marking behavior, but decreased locomotor activity. Post mortem analysis of 5-HT(1A) receptors revealed a decreased affinity of 3[H]-8-OH-DPAT (3[H]-8-hydroxy-2-[di-n-propylamino]tetralin) binding sites in the hippocampus of animals treated with the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist. In conclusion, under our experimental conditions, the glucocorticoid receptor antagonist ORG 34116 did not normalize the depressive-like symptoms in the psychosocial stress model of male tree shrews. This finding, however, does not exclude that specific central, neuroendocrine and behavioral features are affected by the compound.