This study examined whether nociceptin/orphanin FQ (NC), the endogenous ligand of the opioid receptor-like1 (ORL1) receptor, can block drug-seeking behavior induced by foot-shock stress. Male Wistar rats were trained to operantly self-administer ethanol or cocaine, and then subjected to daily extinction training until responding ceased. Subsequent exposure to 15 min of intermittent footshock elicited robust reinstatement of responding at the previously drug-paired lever. NC (0.1-2.0 microg; i.c.v.) significantly inhibited the effects of footshock stress on ethanol- but not cocaine-seeking behavior. The results support the hypothesis that the NC system participates in the regulation of behavioral responses to stress, and that drugs interacting with NC receptors may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of stress-induced alcohol-seeking behavior and relapse.