The differential modulation of learning and anxiety by corticotropin-releasing factor (CRF) through CRF receptor subtypes 1 (CRFR1) and 2 (CRFR2) is demonstrated. As learning paradigm, context- and tone-dependent fear conditioning of the mouse was used. Injection of CRF into the dorsal hippocampus before training enhanced learning through CRFR1 as demonstrated by the finding that this effect was prevented by the local injection of the unselective CRFR antagonist astressin, but not by the CRFR2-specific antagonist antisauvagine-30 (anti-Svg-30). In contrast, injection of CRF into the lateral intermediate septum impaired learning through CRFR2, as demonstrated by the ability of antisauvagine-30 to block this effect. When antisauvagine-30 was injected alone into the lateral intermediate septum, learning was enhanced. Such tonic control of learning was not observed when astressin or antisauvagine-30 was injected into the dorsal hippocampus. Injection of CRF after the training into the dorsal hippocampus and the lateral intermediate septum also enhanced and impaired learning, respectively. Thus, it was indicated that CRF acted on memory consolidation. It was concluded that the observed effects reflected changes of associative learning and not arousal, attention, or motivation. Although a dose of 20 pmol human/rat CRF was sufficient to affect learning significantly, a fivefold higher dose was required to induce anxiety by injection into the septum. Immobilization for 1 hr generated a stress response that included the induction of anxiety through septal CRFR2 and the subsequent enhancement of learning through hippocampal CRFR1. The involvement of either receptor subtype was demonstrated by region-specific injections of astressin and antisauvagine-30.