The role of central versus peripheral opioid receptors in mediating the aversive effects of opioids was examined by use of an unbiased place preference conditioning procedure in rats. The non-selective opioid antagonist naloxone (NLX) produced conditioned aversions for the drug-associated place after subcutaneous (SC) as well as intracerebroventricular (ICV) administration. Place aversions were also observed in response to the ICV administration of the selective mu-antagonist CTOP. In contrast, the selective delta-antagonist ICI 174,864 and the selective kappa-antagonist norbinaltorphimine (nor-BNI) (ICV) were without effect. Place aversions were also produced by central applications of the selective kappa-agonist U50,488H and the dynorphin derivative E-2078. For those opioid ligands tested, the doses required to produce place aversions were substantially lower following ICV as compared to SC administration. These data confirm that kappa-agonists and opioid antagonists produce aversive states in the drug-naive animal and demonstrate that this effect is centrally mediated. Furthermore, the ability of NLX and CTOP, in contrast to both ICI 174,864 and nor-BNI, to produce place aversions suggests that the aversive effects of opioid antagonists result from the blockade of mu-receptors.