We have found that peptide antagonists of corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) receptors attenuate reinstatement of heroin and cocaine seeking induced by footshock. Here we examined the effect of a nonpeptide, selective CRF1 receptor antagonist, CP-154,526, on reinstatement of heroin and cocaine seeking induced by footshock. Rats were trained to self-administer heroin or cocaine (0.1 and 1.0 mg/kg per infusion, i.v., respectively) for 9-12 days. Extinction sessions were given for up to 14 days, during which saline was substituted for the drugs. Tests for reinstatement were then conducted after exposure to intermittent footshock (10 or 15 min, 0.5 mA). The footshock stressor reliably reinstated extinguished cocaine- and heroin-taking behavior. Pretreatment with CP-154,526 (15 and 30 mg/kg, s.c.) significantly attenuated the reinstatement effect of the stressor in both heroin- and cocaine-trained rats. CP-154,526, administered in the absence of the footshock stressor, did not affect extinguished drug seeking. In addition, in a separate experiment, CP-154,526 was shown not to alter high rates of lever pressing for a 10% sucrose solution, suggesting that the suppression of lever pressing in stress-induced reinstatement is not caused by a performance deficit. These results extend previous reports on the role of CRF in reinstatement of drug seeking induced by stressors. The present data also suggest that, to the extent that exposure to environmental stressors provoke relapse to drug use in humans, systemically effective CRF receptor antagonists may be of use in the treatment of relapse to drug use.