Olfaction plays a fundamental role in feeding behavior, but changes in olfactory acuity according to feeding states have never been precisely demonstrated in animals. The present study assesses the olfactory detection performance of fasted or satiated rats placed under a strictly controlled food-intake regimen. We did this using a conditioned odor aversion (COA) protocol which induced in rats an almost total aversion to an ISO-odorized drink at 10(-5) (1 microl in 100 ml of water). The rats (either fasted or satiated) were then presented with different concentrations of ISO-odorized water to compare their ability to detect and so avoid the ISO drink. In both states, the rats consumed significantly larger volumes of ISO at 10(-10), 10(-9) and 10(-8) than at 10(-5), suggesting lower detection at these three concentrations, although the fasted rats consumed significantly less ISO drink than did the satiated ones, showing better ISO detection at these concentrations. These experiments provide original data demonstrating the expected fact that olfactory sensitivity increases in fasted animals. Since these results were obtained using a neutral odor, we suggest that olfactory acuity increases during fasting, enabling animals to more easily detect both food and environmental odors such as those of predators. This would have an obvious eco-ethological role by increasing the relevance of olfactory inputs when seeking food.