Central administration of corticotropin releasing factor (CRF) in rats produces pituitary-adrenal activation and a variety of "anxiogenic-like" effects. The present study was designed to explore the contribution of the peripheral pituitary-adrenocortical axis in mediating these CRF responses. Intraventricularly administered CRF produced suppression of responding in the conflict test and a marked locomotor activation. Neither behavioral effect was altered by the prior administration of dexamethasone in a dose that blocked pituitary-adrenal activation to CRF. These results support the hypothesis that behavioral effects of CRF are mediated by its action at central sites and not via an action on the pituitary-adrenocortical system.