The present study investigated the postoperative plasma concentrations of corticosterone and buprenorphine in male Wistar and Sprague-Dawley rats, treated with buprenorphine administered either through subcutaneous (SC) injection or through voluntary ingestion (VI). The animals were treated with buprenorphine for pre-emptive analgesia prior to surgical placement of a jugular catheter, followed by automated blood sampling during 96 h. Buprenorphine was administered on a regular basis throughout the experiment, and blood was collected on selected time points. Body weight was measured before and 96 h after surgery. It was found that the two rat stocks responded in a similar manner to both buprenorphine treatments, with the exception of body weight change in Wistar rats, in which body weight was reduced after SC treatment. The plasma concentration of corticosterone was significantly higher in the SC-treated animals than in the VI-treated animals during the first 18 h of the study, while plasma buprenorphine concentration was at least as high and more even over time after VI treatment. The present study shows that buprenorphine administration through VI is suitable for both Wistar and Sprague-Dawley rats, with lower stress response and higher plasma concentrations of buprenorphine than after the traditional SC route of administration.