- Rationale . Cholecystokinin and its analogs generate anxiety in humans and measurable anxiety-like behaviors in rats. Cholecystokinin receptor blockers have been reported to have variable effects in the treatment of anxiety disorders. We demonstrated that intracerebroventricular administration of Cholecystokinin-antisense oligodeoxynucleotides (ASODN) for 3 days significantly diminished anxiety-like behavior in rats. Objective . This study was designed to examine the effects of peripheral (intraperitoneal) administration of Cholecystokinin-ASODN on anxiety-like and learning behaviors in rats, in general and in a pre-experiment stress paradigm. Methods . In the first study Cholecystokinin-ASODN was injected intraperitoneally to rats five times at 24-h intervals. Control groups received injections of either a scrambled oligodeoxynucleotide (ScrODN) or vehicle. On the sixth day, the rats were assessed in the elevated plus-maze paradigm and in the Morris water maze. In the second study, rats were pre-exposed to a cat for 10min as a model for psychological stress, and then treated with intraperitoneal Cholecystokinin-ASODN and tested in both paradigms. Results . The results show that for intact rats, intraperitoneal Cholecystokinin-ASODN significantly increased anxiety-like behavior and impaired retention performance in the Morris water maze, compared to both control groups. In stressed rats, Cholecystokinin-ASODN reduced anxiety-like behaviors in the plus-maze and improved performance in the water maze compared with controls. Conclusions . These results indicate that the anxiolytic effect of intraperitoneal Cholecystokinin-ASODN may be dependent on the baseline endogenous level of stress (i.e., on the Cholecystokinin levels). Basal endogenous levels of Cholecystokinin, as well as exogenous dosage of Cholecystokinin agonists and/or anxiolytic agents, appear to play an important role in the expression and/or control of anxiety-related behaviors in rats.