The vanilloid receptor TRPV1 is activated by ethanol and this may be important for some of the central and peripheral actions of ethanol. To determine if this receptor has a role in ethanol-mediated behaviors, we studied null mutant mice in which the Trpv1 gene was deleted. Mice lacking this gene showed significantly higher preference for ethanol and consumed more ethanol in a two-bottle choice test as compared with wild type littermates. Null mutant mice showed shorter duration of loss of righting reflex induced by low doses of ethanol (3.2 and 3.4 g/kg) and faster recovery from motor incoordination induced by ethanol (2 g/kg). However, there were no differences between null mutant and wild type mice in severity of ethanol-induced acute withdrawal (4 g/kg) or conditioned taste aversion to ethanol (2.5 g/kg). Two behavioral phenotypes (decreased sensitivity to ethanol-induced sedation and faster recovery from ethanol-induced motor incoordination) seen in null mutant mice were reproduced in wild type mice by injection of a TRPV1 antagonist, capsazepine (10 mg/kg). These two ethanol behaviors were changed in the opposite direction after injection of capsaicin, a selective TRPV1 agonist, in wild type mice. The studies provide the first evidence that TRPV1 is important for specific behavioral actions of ethanol.