This study was designed to evaluate the role of the amygdala, particularly its central nucleus, in the induction of analgesia elicited by environmental challenges. Rats with large, radiofrequency lesions centered in the central nucleus were found to display significantly attenuated analgesic responses to three different challenges: cat exposure, acute footshock, and re-exposure to an environment associated with footshock. These findings show that the amygdala plays an important role in the elicitation of analgesia by each of the environmental challenges tested. Since the amygdala has been shown to play a critical role in fear, these findings suggest that the analgesia elicited by these challenges involves a substantial fear component. Moreover, the finding that amygdala lesions significantly reduced the analgesia elicited by a non-noxious unconditional stimulus (cat exposure) strongly suggests that these lesions disrupt the expression of analgesia rather than producing a learning impairment. And finally, the findings of this study support the suggestion that fear-elicited analgesia is triggered by activation of a projection from amygdala to periaqueductal gray which forms one component of an integrated 'defensive behavioral system.'