Alterations to the mesolimbic dopamine (DA) system are thought to underlie dysfunctional reward processing in stress-related psychiatric disorders. Using in vivio microdialysis in awake freely moving mice, we assessed the effects of stress on the motivational and neurochemical correlates underlying conditioned approach behavior for palatable food in the non-deprived mouse. Mice trained to approach and consume food in a familiar environment exhibited a 30% increase in nucleus accumbens shell (AcbSh) extracellular dopamine levels coincident with approach towards and consumption of the food reward. This effect was not observed in mice that were presented with the food in an unfamiliar environment or were exposed for the first time and were region specific. The addition of an acute environmental stressor (bright light and novel scent) during food exposure decreased DA release and delayed approach to the food. The disruptive impact of acute novelty stress on DA levels and approach behavior was reversed in animals pretreated with buprenorphine, an opioid drug with antidepressant-like and anxiolytic effects. Together, these data indicate that exposure to mild stress reduces incentive drive to approach palatable food via alterations in AcbSh dopamine responsiveness to food reward. Moreover, they implicate the brain opioid system as a potential pharmacological target for counteracting behavioral and neurochemical elements associated with stress.