The reinforcing properties of cocaine are probably mediated by the mesocorticolimbic dopamine pathways in the central nervous system, but not all of the dopamine receptor subtypes involved in cocaine's reinforcing actions have been clearly identified. Recently, the D-3 receptor has been cloned, and its distribution in the brain has been found to be relatively restricted to limbic projections of the midbrain dopamine system. The D-3-selective compounds 7-hydroxy-N,N-di-n-propyl-2-aminotetralin (7-OHDPAT) and quinpirole potently decreased cocaine self-administration in the rat at doses that were not by themselves reinforcing. Moreover, three dopamine receptor agonists had affinities for binding to the D-3 receptor that correlated highly with their relative potencies in decreasing cocaine self-administration. The D-3 receptor may be involved in the reinforcing effects of cocaine and may be a useful target for the development of new pharmacotherapies for cocaine abuse.