Effects of the opioid receptor like-1 (ORL-1) receptor agonist Ro 64-6198 (0.1, 0.3, and 1.0 mg/kg intraperitoneally (i.p.)) on operant ethanol self-administration and activation of self-administration by ethanol deprivation were studied in male Wistar rats. Acute administration of Ro 64-6198 caused a dose-dependent reduction of ethanol self-administration. In comparison, the opioid antagonist naltrexone (0.1, 0.3, and 1.0 mg/kg i.p.) inhibited ethanol self-administration at all doses tested. Ethanol deprivation for 10 days significantly increased ethanol self-administration during the first 2 days after deprivation. Daily pretreatment with Ro 64-6198 (0.3 mg/kg) or naltrexone (0.3 mg/kg) during the last 3 days of ethanol deprivation abolished the deprivation-induced increase in ethanol intake. Thus, stimulation of the ORL-1 receptors by Ro 64-6198 reduced the acute reinforcing effects of ethanol and prevented relapse-like behavior in the ethanol-deprivation model in a similar manner as a blockade of opioid receptors by naltrexone. Ro 64-6198 at 0.1 and 0.3 mg/kg doses did not alter self-administration of 0.2% saccharin solution, indicating an apparent selectivity of this compound in modification of ethanol reward. These findings add further support to the idea that Ro 64-6198 and potentially other synthetic ORL-1 receptor agonists are as effective as naltrexone in blocking the actions of ethanol important for its addictive potential in animal experiments, and therefore may have therapeutic value in the treatment of alcoholism.