Quantitative electroencephalographic (qEEG) profiles were studied in cocaine-dependent patients in response to an acute, single-blind, self-administered dose of smoked cocaine base (50 mg) vs placebo. qEEG data were averaged using neurometric analytical methods and the spectral power of each primary bandwidth was computed and topographically imaged. Additional measures included cocaine-induced high, craving, and related subjective ratings, heart rate, blood pressure, and plasma cortisol and homovanillic acid levels. In all, 13 crack cocaine-dependent subjects were tested. Cocaine produced a rapid increase in subjective ratings of cocaine high and good drug effect, and a more persistent increase in cocaine craving and nervousness. Cocaine also produced a rapid rise in heart rate and a prolonged increase in plasma cortisol. Placebo, administered in the context of cocaine cues and dosing expectations, had no cocaine-like subjective or physiological effects. Cocaine produced a rapid increase in absolute theta, alpha, and beta power over the prefrontal cortex (FP1, FP2), lasting up to 25 min after dosing. The increase in theta power was correlated with good drug effect, and the increase in alpha power was correlated with nervousness. Cocaine also produced a similar increase in delta coherence over the prefrontal cortex, which was positively correlated with plasma cortisol, and negatively correlated with nervousness. Placebo resulted in an increase in alpha power over the prefrontal cortex. These data demonstrate the involvement of prefrontal cortex in the qEEG response to acute cocaine. Evidence indicates slow wave qEEG, delta and theta activity, involvement in the rewarding properties of cocaine.