Corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) has been implicated in the mediation of the stress-like and negative affective consequences of withdrawal from drugs of abuse, such as alcohol, cocaine, and opiates. This study sought to determine whether brain CRF systems also have a role in cannabinoid dependence. Rats were treated daily for 2 weeks with the potent synthetic cannabinoid HU-210. Withdrawal, induced by the cannabinoid antagonist SR 141716A, was accompanied by a marked elevation in extracellular CRF concentration and a distinct pattern of Fos activation in the central nucleus of the amygdala. Maximal increases in CRF corresponded to the time when behavioral signs resulting from cannabinoid withdrawal were at a maximum. These data suggest that long-term cannabinoid administration alters CRF function in the limbic system of the brain, in a manner similar to that observed with other drugs of abuse, and also induces neuroadaptive processes that may result in future vulnerability to drug dependence.