We have previously shown that exposure to inescapable footshock stress decreases survival of rats injected with a mammary ascites tumor (MAT 13762B). This increased vulnerability to the tumor challenge was prevented by an opiate antagonist, naltrexone, suggesting mediation by opioid peptides. Supporting this hypothesis, we now report that a high dose of an opiate agonist, morphine, also reduces survival of rats given the same tumor. This effect shows tolerance after 14 daily injections. The adverse effect of stress, however, did not show other signs of opioid involvement: it manifested neither tolerance with repeated stress exposures nor cross-tolerance in morphine-tolerant rats. Our recent findings that stress and morphine reduce natural killer cell cytotoxicity in a similar fashion suggest an immune mechanism that may explain the present results.