Gender differences in hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis activation and the prevalence of mood disorders are well documented. Urocortin 2, a recently identified member of the corticotropin-releasing factor family, is expressed in discrete neuroendocrine and stress-related nuclei of the rodent CNS. To determine the physiological role of urocortin 2, mice null for urocortin 2 were generated and HPA axis activity, ingestive, and stress-related behaviors and alterations in expression levels of CRF-related ligands and receptors were examined. Here we report that female, but not male, mice lacking urocortin 2 exhibit a significant increase in the basal daily rhythms of ACTH and corticosterone and a significant decrease in fluid intake and depressive-like behavior. The differential phenotype of urocortin 2 deficiency in female and male mice may imply a role for urocortin 2 in these gender differences.