Malfunction of the serotonergic system and dysregulation of the hypothalamo-pituitary-adrenocortical axis have been implicated in the pathophysiology of depression. Several studies provide evidence for reciprocal influences between glucocorticoids and 5-HT receptors. The effect of repeated treatment with a high dose of corticosterone (50 mg/kg s.c. twice daily for 4 days) on 5-HT receptor subtype-mediated behaviours was studied. It was found that in rats that were repeatedly treated with corticosterone the number of 2-chloro-6-(1-piperazinyl)pyrazine HCl (MK 212)-induced, 5-HT2C receptor-mediated penile erections were reduced, whereas both MK 212 and (+/-)-1-(2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodophenyl)-2-aminopropane (DOI)-induced 5-HT2A receptor-mediated head shakes were increased. The (+/-)-8-hydroxy-2-(di-n-propylamino)tetralin (8-OH-DPAT)-induced lower lip retraction mediated by presynaptic 5-HT1A receptors was unchanged, whereas the open field activity induced by 8-OH-DPAT was enhanced in corticosterone pretreated rats. These changes in 5-HT receptor subtype-mediated behaviours were not seen after a single injection with corticosterone given 24 h or 5 days before. The results suggest that 5-HT2A, 5-HT2C and postsynaptic 5-HT1A receptor-mediated behaviour can be modulated by repeated treatment with a high dose of corticosterone.