Cognitive functioning of adult female rats that were maternally exposed to methadone (5 mg/kg daily) during gestation and/or lactation was studied by assessing performance on a food-motivated light-dark discrimination learning test and on active and passive shock-avoidance tests. Methadone-exposed rats exhibited difficulties on the light-dark discrimination learning and the active avoidance tests, and behavioral deficits appeared to be related to the timing and duration of drug treatment. On the light-dark discrimination test only 33% of the rats in the gestation group and 25% of the animals in the lactation group met criterion in comparison to 87% of the control rats. Thirty-three percent of the animals in either the gestation or gestation-lactation groups met criterion on the active avoidance test in contrast to 87% of the controls. These data suggest that perinatal exposure to methadone impairs cognitive abilities in the adult female rat.