Resting pituitary levels of beta-endorphin-(beta-EP-IR), ACTH-(ACTH-IR), and alpha-MSH-(alpha-MSH-IR)-like immunoreactive material were found to differ among 16 inbred mouse strains. Hormone levels correlated genetically with severity of withdrawal from ethanol, which also differed among the strains. Ethanol dependence led to reduced pituitary beta-EP-IR in 4 of 5 strains studied. After 24 hr of withdrawal, 3 of those 4 showed elevated pituitary beta-EP-IR. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that genetically-determined difference in pituitary hormone functioning underlie some of the genetically-determined differences in ethanol withdrawal severity.