Pharmacological studies suggest that diabetes produces changes in the brain opioid system, affecting several behavioral functions including analgesia, feeding and self-stimulation. Previous investigations of opioid receptor binding have failed to explain the unusual opioid pharmacology of the diabetic animal. In the present study, the effects of streptozotocin-induced diabetes on levels of three immunoreactive (ir)-prodynorphin-derived peptides, ir-dynorphin A1-17 (A1-17), ir-dynorphin A1-8 (A1-8) and ir-dynorphin B1-13 (B1-13), were determined in eleven brain regions known to be involved in appetite, taste and reward. Diabetes was found to increase levels of A1-17 in the ventromedial and dorsomedial hypothalamic nuclei (+60% and +25%, respectively) and levels of A1-8 in the dorsomedial and lateral hypothalamus (+45% and +35%, respectively). The possible significance of these results is discussed in relation to (i) diabetic hyperphagia, (ii) medial hypothalamic transduction of circulating insulin levels, and (iii) the potentiation of reward by metabolic need states.