There is general agreement that dopaminergic neurons projecting from the ventral tegmental area (VTA) to the nucleus accumbens and prefrontal cortex play a key role in drug reinforcement. The activity of these neurons is strongly modulated by the inhibitory and excitatory input they receive. Activation of mu-opioid receptors, located on GABAergic neurons in the VTA, causes hyperpolarization of these GABAergic neurons, thereby causing a disinhibition of VTA dopaminergic neurons. This effect of mu-opioid receptors upon GABA neurotransmission is a likely mechanism for mu-opioid receptor modulation of drug reinforcement. We studied mu-opioid receptor signaling in relation to cocaine reinforcement in wild-type and mu-opioid receptor knockout mice using a cocaine self-administration paradigm and in vitro electrophysiology. Cocaine self-administration was reduced in mu-opioid receptor knockout mice, suggesting a critical role of mu-opioid receptors in cocaine reinforcement. The frequency of spontaneous inhibitory post-synaptic currents onto dopaminergic neurons in the ventral tegmental area was increased in mu-opioid receptor knockout mice compared with wild-type controls, while the frequency of spontaneous excitatory post-synaptic currents was unaltered. The reduced cocaine self-administration and increased GABAergic input to VTA dopaminergic neurons in mu-opioid receptor knockout mice supports the notion that suppression of GABAergic input onto dopaminergic neurons in the VTA contributes to mu-opioid receptor modulation of cocaine reinforcement.