Recent findings implicate group II metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluR(2/3)) in the reinforcing and dependence-inducing actions of ethanol and identify these receptors as treatment targets for alcoholism. Here, we investigated the effects of mGLuR(2/3) activation on conditioned reinstatement in rats with different ethanol-dependence histories and examined dependence-associated changes in the functional activity of mGluR(2/3). Following ethanol self-administration training and conditioning procedures, rats were made ethanol dependent, using ethanol vapor inhalation, under three conditions: a single intoxication and withdrawal episode (SW), repeated cycles of intoxication and withdrawal (RW), or no intoxication (CTRL). At 1 week after removal from ethanol vapor, self-administration resumed until stable baseline performance was reached, followed by extinction of operant responding and reinstatement tests. Post-withdrawal self-administration was increased in the RW group, but all groups showed conditioned reinstatement. The mGluR(2/3) agonist LY379268 dose -dependently reduced reinstatement in all groups, but was more effective at low doses in the SW and RW groups. The highest dose of LY379268 tested reduced spontaneous locomotor activity and operant responding maintained by a non-drug reinforcer, without differences among groups. The heightened sensitivity to the effects of LY379268 in rats with an ethanol-dependence history was therefore specific to behavior motivated by ethanol-related stimuli. Both the SW and RW groups showed elevated [(35)S]GTPγS binding in the central nucleus of the amygdala (CeA) and bed nucleus of stria terminalis (BNST), relative to the CTRL group. The findings implicate changes in mGluR(2/3) functional activity as a factor in ethanol dependence and support treatment target potential of mGlu(2/3) receptors for craving and relapse prevention.