Environmental stress causes the activation of two types of endogenous pain inhibitory systems in animals: opioid analgesia is antagonized by opiate receptor blockers (e.g., naloxone and naltrexone), whereas analgesia produced by nonopioid systems is insensitive to such antagonism. A large literature documents that the parameters of the laboratory stressor will determine the neurochemical identity of the resultant analgesia. In rats, low severity stressors produce opioid analgesia and higher severity stressors produce nonopioid analgesia. A recent parametric analysis of swim stress-induced analgesia (SSIA) in the female Quackenbush mouse, however, observed the opposite pattern. The present study is a parametric analysis of SSIA using a range of swim temperatures (15-38 degrees C), swim durations (45 s to 7 min), and genetic models [male Swiss-Webster mice, and mice selectively bred from this outbred strain for high (HA), low (LA), or control SSIA]. We find that in nonselected mice low severity swims (i.e., warm temperature, short duration) produce naloxone-sensitive opioid SSIA, whereas high severity swims (i.e., cold temperature, long duration) produce nonopioid SSIA. This pattern is also seen in HA mice displaying very high analgesic magnitudes, but not in LA mice displaying minimal SSIA. In the selectively bred mice, analgesia and hypothermia from forced swimming are positively correlated, but can be dissociated both genetically and neurochemically. Furthermore, swimming in body temperature (38 degrees C) water produces analgesia without concommitant hypothermia, and the increased magnitude of 38 degrees C SSIA displayed by HA mice over control levels is entirely opioid.