Two kappa agonists, U50,488 and spiradoline, produced dose-related acute decreases in both morphine and cocaine self-administration in rats; higher doses of both agents were required to decrease rates of bar-pressing for water. On the day after kappa agonist administration, both agents produced extinction-like patterns of responding in many rats self-administering morphine or cocaine but not in rats responding for water. Two days after their administration, both U50,488 and spiradoline produced significant decreases in both morphine and cocaine intake; some rats continued to show decreases in drug self-administration for 5-6 days. Although the kappa antagonist nor-binaltorphimine (10 mg/kg s.c.) had no effect itself on either morphine or cocaine self-administration, it fully antagonized the effects of U50,488 (10 m/kg i.p.). The results suggest that although endogenous kappa opioid systems may not tonically modulate mechanisms involved in drug reinforcement, pharmacological activation of kappa pathways may be a novel and effective pharmacological approach to treating both opioid and stimulant addiction.