Social relationships are integral to the behaviour of many mammalian species. Primates are unusual in that their social relationships are extensive within groups, which often contain many reproductively active males and females. Several hypotheses have been forwarded to explain the ultimate causation of primate sociality. While attention has focused on grooming as a proximate factor influencing social relationships, the neural basis of such behaviour has not been investigated in monkeys. This report presents changes in the brain's opioid system contingent on grooming in monkeys. Opiates themselves have a feedback interaction with grooming behaviour, as revealed from the administration of opiate agonists and antagonists. Opiate receptor blockade increases the motivation to be groomed, while morphine administration decreases it. These data support the view that brain opioids play an important role in mediating social attachment and may provide the neural basis on which primate sociality has evolved.