Although it has been demonstrated that many of the behavioral responses to psychomotor stimulants are gender dependent and hormonally sensitive, few studies have examined the possibility that the estrous cycle interacts with drug reinforcement in laboratory animals. The present experiment assessed the effect of the estrous cycle on two aspects of cocaine self-administration behavior: the breaking point on a progressive ratio (PR) schedule and the rate of cocaine intake on a fixed ratio one (FR1) schedule. On the PR schedule, the first lever response produced a drug infusion. Subsequent response requirements escalated with each injection until the behavior extinguished. Breaking points were defined as the final ratio completed. On a FR1 schedule, the estrous cycle had no effect on the rate of drug intake. On a PR schedule, female rats reached higher breaking points during estrus than during other stages of the estrous cycle. Furthermore, female rats displayed higher breaking points than male rats. It appears that the estrous cycle influences an animal's motivation to self-administer cocaine.