To investigate the role of glutamate in the locus coeruleus (LC) during opioid withdrawal, rats were continuously infused with morphine (a µ-opioid receptor agonist, 26 nmol/µl/h) or butorphanol (a µ/δ/κ-mixed opioid receptor agonist, 26 nmol/µl/h) intracerebroventricularly (i.c.v.) via osmotic minipumps for 3 days. A direct LC injection of glutamate (1 or 10 nmol/5 µl) or naloxone (an opioid receptor antagonist, 24 nmol/5 µl) induced withdrawal signs in morphine- or butorphanol-dependent animals. However, these agents failed to precipitate any withdrawal signs in saline-treated control animals. On the other hand, the expression of withdrawal signs precipitated by the administration of glutamate or naloxone in opioid-dependent animals was completely blocked by concomitant... infusion with 1 or 10 nmol/µl/h of an inhibitor of adenosine 3′,5′-cyclic monophosphate (cAMP)-dependent protein kinase and protein kinase C, H-7 [1-(5-isoquinolinesulfonyl)-2-methylpiperazine]. In animals that had been infused with opioids in the same manner, i.c.v. injection of naloxone (48 nmol/5 µl) precipitated withdrawal signs and increased extracellular fluid levels of glutamate in the LC of morphine- or butorphanol-dependent rats measured by in vivo microdialysis method. However, concomitant infusion with H-7 inhibited the increases of glutamate levels in the LC. These results strongly suggest that an expeditious release of glutamate in the LC region plays an important role in the expression of physical dependence on opioids. Furthermore, the action on glutamate release might be increased by the enhancement of cAMP-dependent protein kinase and/or protein kinase C activity.