Dopamine neurotransmission is an important neuropharmacological component of ethanol reinforcement in rodents. A recently characterized class of compounds, dopamine partial receptor agonists, appears to possess a unique pharmacological profile on dopamine neurotransmission. The aim of the present study was to test the effects of systemic administration of terguride and SDZ 208-911 (N-[(8 alpha)-2,6-dimethylergoline-8-yl]-2,2-diethylpropanamide), two prototype dopamine partial receptor agonists, in free-feeding, non-deprived rats trained to drink ethanol (10% w/v) and water in 'free-choice' limited access conditions. Both acute and chronic administration of terguride and SDZ 208-911 significantly reduced ethanol intake while water intake was not significantly affected, thus ruling out possible non-specific effects of these drugs on fluid intake. These results suggest that dopamine partial receptor agonists reduce the reinforcing properties of ethanol in the rat, an effect similar to that previously observed with cocaine. Therefore, the pharmacological profile of dopamine partial receptor agonists and their effects in animal models of dependence provide preclinical support to the hypothesis that these compounds may represent a novel pharmacological strategy for intervention in various forms of drug addiction.