NPY is one of the most abundantly expressed peptides within the CNS, and has been previously demonstrated to be altered in several animal models of depression, as well as to be differentially regulated by acute and repeated stress. The effect of social deprivation, through isolation housing, on brain NPY concentrations in adult rats has not been previously investigated. The effects of 12 weeks of social isolation, in adult rats, on anxiety-related behaviors and central concentrations of NPY in: hypothalamus, amygdala, caudate-putamen, hippocampus, and frontal cortex were evaluated. Single housed animals spent significantly more time on the open arms of the elevated plus maze and in the central area of the open field as compared to pair housed controls. These data are most likely indicative of enhanced exploration and novelty seeking. Concentrations of neuropeptide Y were increased in the caudate-putamen of the single housed subjects. NPY levels in caudate/putamen and hypothalamus were also significantly correlated with time spent in the open arms of the elevated plus maze. These data suggest that chronic social isolation, in these adult Wistar rats, did not increase anxiety but produced enhanced exploration in tests of anxiety, an effect that was associated with NPY concentrations in the striatum and hypothalamus.