A novel mu-opioid receptor (MOR) subtype, named MOR-1B, derived from alternatively spliced variants of MOR gene, has been isolated from the rat brain. Here we found for the first time that CXBK recombinant-inbred mice display a significant reduction in the expression of MOR-1B mRNA in the brain as compared to that in their progenitor C57BL/6 mice. In contrast, the expression level of MOR-1 mRNA in the brain of CXBK mice was similar to that found in C57BL/6 mice. Furthermore, relatively lower levels of MOR-1B immunoreactivity were detected in the periaqueductal grey matter (PAG) of CXBK mice than that observed in C57BL/6 mice. To investigate further the possible changes in MOR function to activate G-proteins under the condition of a reduced MOR-1B expression, the guanosine-5'-o-(3-[35S]thio)triphosphate ([35S]GTPgammaS) binding assay was performed. We found that the increased level of [35S]GTPgammaS bindings to whole brain membranes induced by a selective MOR agonist endomorphin-1 was significantly decreased in CXBK mice, indicating that CXBK strain can be classified as MOR-1B-knockdown mice. We next investigated whether intracerebroventricular (i.c.v.) pretreatment with an antisence oligodeoxynucleotide against exon 5 of MOR gene (MOR-1B) could affect the endomorphin-1-induced supraspinal antinociception. The i.c.v. pretreatment with antisence oligodeoxynucleotide against MOR-1B produced a significant reduction in the i.c.v.-administered endomorphin-1-induced antinociceptive effect. The present data provide first evidence that a lack of MOR-1B expression may, at least in part, contribute to the reduced sensitivity to MOR agonists in CXBK mice, and MOR-1B may play a potential role in the MOR-mediated supraspinal antinociception.