The effects of a highly selective kappa antagonist, nor-binaltorphimine (nor-BNI), on the development of tolerance to morphine analgesia and physical dependence on morphine were examined. Pretreatment with nor-BNI (5 mg/kg s.c.) 2 h prior to injection of morphine or a selective kappa agonist, U-50,488H, significantly antagonized the analgesic effect of U-50,488H, but not morphine analgesia in mice. The development of tolerance to morphine analgesia was significantly potentiated by pretreatment of mice with nor-BNI 2 h prior to morphine treatment during chronic morphine treatment for 5 days. Additionally, the pretreatment with nor-BNI during chronic treatment with the high dose of morphine for 5 days significantly potentiated the naloxone-induced body weight loss in morphine-dependent mice and rats. These findings suggest that inactivation of the kappa opioid system may potentiate the development of tolerance to morphine analgesia in mice and may aggravate the naloxone-precipitated body weight loss in morphine-dependent mice and rats.