Adult male rats were exposed ad libitum for 40 days to 100 ppm cadmium chloride through their diet, or an identical diet with no added cadmium. Conditioned place preference (CPP) was conducted in a 2-chamber apparatus in which all drugs were paired with the least-preferred side as determined on a pre-test. In Experiment 1. control and cadmium-exposed rats received 0, 0.6, 1.25, 2.5, or 5 mg/kg morphine sulfate (i.p.) for 4 days, and vehicle only for 4 days. Control animals showed a preference for the drug-paired side at 1.25, 2.5, and 5 mg/kg while the cadmium-exposed rats showed a preference at 5 mg/kg only. In Experiment 2, rats were implanted with cannulae into the lateral ventricles and 0, 2, 5 micrograms morphine sulfate was administered intracerebroventricularly (i.c.v.). An attenuation by cadmium again was observed, as control animals showed a place preference at 2 and 5 micrograms and cadmium-exposed animals showed preference at 5 micrograms only. In Experiment 3, increasing doses of the mu-opioid receptor agonist fentanyl (0, 0.0004, 0.004, and 0.04 mg/kg) were systemically administered (s.c.) and rats tested for CPP. While cadmium animals showed place preference only at 0.04 mg/kg, control animals showed preference at 0.0004, 0.004, and 0.04 mg/kg. These findings are discussed within the framework of metal-induced disturbance of neurochemical function and/or associative processing, and the implications that such disturbances may have for drug seeking and taking.