Five rats were trained to respond for 10% sucrose and 10% sucrose/0.006% quinine in an operant procedure. Both solutions were concurrently available on independent, variable-interval 5-s schedules of reinforcement. Rats reliably responded for both solutions throughout the sessions and made approximately 68% of their total daily responses for the sucrose solution. When injected prior to the sessions with 4 mg/kg of chlordiazepoxide, rats selectively increased quinine responding; injections of the benzodiazepine inverse agonist Ro 15-4513 (9 mg/kg) led to decreased quinine responding. The effects of both chlordiazepoxide and Ro 15-4513 were reversed by the benzodiazepine antagonist flumazenil. Presession injections of flumazenil, muscimol, baclofen, or picrotoxin all resulted in no changes in responding, or a decrease in responding for both solutions. These results are discussed in terms of a bidirectional modulation of sweet-bitter taste preference by drugs acting on the benzodiazepine receptor. Moreover, the data from these experiments suggest that any changes in the oral consumption of alcohol following administration of benzodiazepine drugs must be examined in light of their effects on taste palatability.