The present experiments tested the hypothesis that the selective CB1 receptor antagonist SR141716A alters heroin self-administration by attenuating heroin-induced increases in nucleus accumbens dopamine levels. SR141716A pretreatment dose-dependently (0.3-3 mg/kg, i.p.) reduced operant heroin self-administration by male Wistar rats under a fixed ratio schedule of reinforcement, and significantly lowered the breaking point of responding for heroin under a progressive ratio schedule of reinforcement. These observations are consistent with recent reports that CB1 receptor inactivation reduces the rewarding properties of opiates. Operant responding for water reinforcement by water-restricted rats was unaltered by these SR141716A doses. Microdialysis tests revealed that heroin self-administration significantly increases interstitial dopamine levels in the nucleus accumbens shell of vehicle-pretreated control rats. However, whereas SR141716A pretreatment dose-dependently reduced heroin self-administration, it did not alter the heroin-associated increase in nucleus accumbens dopamine. These findings suggest that the CB1 antagonist-induced attenuation of heroin reward does not involve dopaminergic mechanisms in the nucleus accumbens shell.