The rewarding properties of some abused drugs are thought to reside in their ability to increase striatal dopamine levels. Similar increases have been shown in response to expectation of a positive drug effect. The actions of opioid drugs on striatal dopamine release are less well characterized. We examined whether heroin and the expectation of heroin reward increases striatal dopamine levels in human opioid addiction. Ten opioid-dependent participants maintained on either methadone or buprenorphine underwent [(11) C]raclopride positron emission tomography imaging. Opioid-dependent participants were scanned three times, receiving reward from 50-mg intravenous heroin (diamorphine; pharmaceutical heroin) during the first scan to generate expectation of the same reward at the second scan, during which they only received 0.1-mg intravenous heroin. There was no heroin injection during the third scan. Intravenous 50-mg heroin during the first scan induced pronounced effects leading to high levels of expectation at the second scan. There was no detectable increase in striatal dopamine levels to either heroin reward or expectation of reward. We believe this is the first human study to examine whether expectation of heroin reward increases striatal dopamine levels in opioid addiction. The absence of detectable increased dopamine levels to both the expectation and delivery of a heroin-related reward may have been due to the impact of substitute medication. It does however contrast with the changes seen in abstinent stimulant users, suggesting that striatal dopamine release alone may not play such a pivotal role in opioid-maintained individuals. © 2013 The Authors. Addiction Biology published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of Society for the Study of Addiction.