Previous work has shown that clonidine effectively suppresses many of the signs of opiate withdrawal. The present study was designed to test the hypothesis that the suppression of opiate withdrawal by clonidine is mediated by forebrain noradrenergic projections of the locus coeruleus. Two groups of 24 rats each were subjected to either a 6-hydroxydopamine lesion of the dorsal noradrenergic bundle (Lesion group) or a sham, vehicle injection (Sham group). All rats were made dependent on morphine by subcutaneous implantation of one 75 mg silastic morphine pellet for three days followed by 3 more days with two additional 75 mg pellets. Following removal of the morphine pellet, withdrawal was precipitated in all rats by subcutaneous injection of 4 mg/kg of naloxone. Pretreatment 10 min. before withdrawal with clonidine (0.1 or 0.2 mg/kg) produced a significant attenuation of withdrawal signs as compared to saline injected rats; this effect was equally significant in both sham and lesion groups. Lesions of the locus coeruleus had no effect on withdrawal, nor did they affect the ameliorating action of clonidine. These results substantiate the observation that clonidine can effectively attenuate signs of opiate withdrawal in the rat, but fail to support the hypothesis that these effects are mediated by the forebrain projections of the locus coeruleus.