When consumption of a novel taste (conditioned stimulus; CS) is followed by exposure to a toxin, organisms will avoid consumption of that taste in the future. This learned response, known as a conditioned taste aversion (CTA), can be demonstrated using a variety of drugs, including lithium chloride (LiCl) and ethanol. c-Fos immunohistochemistry was used to examine neural activation in the rat brainstem associated with drug administration and with a CS taste previously paired with these drugs. Relative to saline controls, animals injected with either LiCl (76 mg/kg) or ethanol (3.5 g/kg) displayed greater c-Fos expression in area postrema, nucleus of the solitary tract (NTS), and lateral parabrachial nucleus. At these doses, LiCl- and ethanol-injected groups did not differ from each other. For establishing a CTA, intraoral infusion of a 0.15% saccharin solution was followed by injection of either LiCl or ethanol. Both LiCl and ethanol produced quantitatively similar CTAs. Relative to unpaired control groups, saccharin paired with either drug induced significant c-Fos expression in NTS. Thus, like LiCl, ethanol and tastes that have become aversive by virtue of their association with ethanol activate brainstem regions hypothesized to play a role in CTA learning.