LY354740 is a conformationally constrained analog of glutamate with high selectivity and nanomolar agonist activity at Group II metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs). This orally active compound is a new drug candidate which is being developed for the treatment of anxiety. In this study, LY354740 was investigated in a model of nicotine withdrawal using the acoustic startle reflex (sensorimotor reactivity) in rats. Nicotine (6 mg/kg/day) was administered for 12 days subcutaneously by osmotic minipumps. After 12 days the pumps were removed and the animals were allowed to go through spontaneous withdrawal. Cessation of chronic nicotine exposure led to increased startle responding for 4 days following withdrawal. Treatment with LY354740 (0.0001-0.1 mg/kg, i.p.; 0.03-3 mg/kg, oral) produced a dose-dependent attenuation of the enhanced auditory startle responding following withdrawal of nicotine with intraperitoneal and oral ED50 values of 0.003 mg/kg and 0.7 mg/kg, respectively. These effects were stereoselective since the (-)-enantiomer of LY354740, LY366563, was without effect in this model. LY354740 produced no changes in the sensorimotor reactivity of rats not exposed to nicotine at oral doses up to 10 mg/kg. These data support the functional role of mGluR agonists in nicotine withdrawal and indicate that LY354740 may be efficacious in reducing the symptoms associated with nicotine withdrawal during smoking cessation in humans.