A series of studies were conducted in order to further characterize the previously reported effect of morphine to diminish hepatocellular concentrations of glutathione (GSH) in mice. Naive ICR mice administered morphine (i.p.) in doses up to 1000 mg/kg had diminished hepatic GSH concentrations, with a maximum depletion of approximately 50% occurring at doses of 250 mg/kg or greater. No such effect from an acute challenge with morphine was observed in morphine-tolerant mice. The intracerebro-ventricular administration of the opioid receptor antagonist naltrexone (250 micrograms) completely blocked the hepatic GSH depression resulting from the systemic (i.p.) administration of morphine (100 mg/kg). When morphine (100 micrograms) was administered by the i.c.v. route, GSH concentrations in liver and plasma were significantly altered while heart and kidney were unchanged. Variable responses to i.c.v. morphine were obtained in spleen, stomach and lung. The depression of hepatic GSH was found not to be a consequence of morphine-induced hypoxia or hypothermia, and could not be attributed to intracellular oxidation of GSH.