Following chronic cocaine treatment, we have found a long-lasting increase in AP-1 binding in the rat nucleus accumbens and striatum, two important targets of the behavioral effects of cocaine. This increase develops gradually over several days and remains at 50% of maximal levels 7 days after the last cocaine exposure. Supershift experiments, along with one- and two-dimensional Western blots, indicate that this chronic AP-1 complex contains at least four Fos-related antigens (FRAs), some of which display delta FosB-like immunoreactivity, that are induced selectively by chronic, but not acute, cocaine treatment. The same chronic FRAs were also induced by several different types of chronic treatments in a region-specific manner in the brain. Thus, the chronic FRAs and associated chronic AP-1 complex could mediate some of the long-term changes in gene expression unique to the chronic-treated state as opposed to the acute-treated and normal states.