We have recently reported that midazolam, a benzodiazepine receptor agonist that is also a short acting anesthetic and analgesic drug, can produce analgesia and decrease morphine tolerance and dependence in the rat by interacting with the opioidergic system. This study was designed to investigate the chronic effect of midazolam and/or morphine on the levels of dynorphin(1-13) in the pituitary gland, different brain regions, spinal cord and peripheral tissues of the rat. Four sets of animals were used: (I) saline-saline; (II) midazolam (0.03, 0.3 or 3.0 mg/kg, body wt., i.p.)-saline; (III) saline-morphine (10.0 mg/kg, body wt., s.c.); and (IV) midazolam-morphine (0.03, 0.3 or 3.0 mg/kg midazolam + 10.0 mg/kg morphine) groups. The first saline or midazolam injection was given i.p. and after 30 min, the second injection of saline or morphine was given s.c. daily for 11 days. Animals were sacrificed on the 11th day, 60 min after the last injection and dynorphin(1-13) was measured in indicated tissues by radioimmunoassay method. The midazolam treated animals showed a significant decrease in dynorphin(1-13) levels in the cortex, cerebellum, cervical region of spinal cord, heart and adrenals, and a significant increase in the hypothalamus, striatum and lumbar region of the spinal cord. The morphine treated animals showed a significant decrease in dynorphin(1-13) levels in the pituitary gland, hypothalamus, hippocampus, striatum, cerebellum, pons, medulla, kidneys, adrenals and spleen, and a significant increase only in the lumbar region of the spinal cord. When both drugs were injected together there was no effect on pituitary gland, kidneys and spleen. These drugs antagonize each other's effect on dynorphin(1-13) in the hypothalamus, striatum, cerebellum, pons, medulla and heart. However, the midazolam-morphine combination significantly increases dynorphin(1-13) levels in the hippocampus, cortex, midbrain, cervical and lumbar regions of the spinal cord, and adrenals. These results suggest the involvement of dynorphin(1-13) in the inhibition of morphine-induced tolerance and dependence by midazolam in the rat. These results may also help us in understanding the intrinsic mechanisms involved in narcotic tolerance and dependence.