Conditioned place aversion in rats has face validity as a measure of the aversive stimulus effects of opiate withdrawal that reflects an important motivational component of opiate dependence. The purpose of the present study was to validate conditioned place aversion as sensitive to medications that will alleviate the aversive stimulus effects of opiate withdrawal in humans, and to extend this model to the exploration of the neuropharmacological basis of the motivational effects of opiate withdrawal. Male Sprague-Dawley rats were implanted with two subcutaneous morphine pellets and 5 days later began place conditioning training following subcutaneous administration of a low dose of naloxone. Animals were subjected to three pairings of a low dose of naloxone (15 microg/kg, s.c.) to one arm of a three-chambered place conditioning apparatus. Buprenorphine administered prior to each pairing dose-dependently blocked the place aversion produced by precipitated opiate withdrawal. A corticotropin-releasing factor-1 (CRF1) receptor antagonist (antalarmin) also reversed the place aversion produced by precipitated opiate withdrawal. Antalarmin did not produce a place preference or place aversion by itself in morphine-dependent rats. No effect was observed with pretreatment of the dopamine partial agonist terguride or the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor fluoxetine. Also, chronic pretreatment with acamprosate (a glutamate receptor modulator used to prevent relapse in alcohol dependence) did not alter naloxone-induced place aversion. Buprenorphine by itself in dependent rats produced a mild place preference at low doses and a mild place aversion at higher doses. These results suggest that buprenorphine blocks the aversive stimulus effects of precipitated opiate withdrawal in rats and provides some validity for the use of place conditioning as a measure that is sensitive to potential opiate-dependence medications. In addition, these results suggest that CRF1 antagonists can block the aversive stimulus effects of opiate withdrawal and may be potential therapeutic targets for opiate dependence.