Rhesus monkeys self-administered a range of doses of either cocaine or alfentanil under a fixed-ratio 30, time out 45 sec schedule of i.v. drug delivery. Buprenorphine suppressed responding maintained by both cocaine and alfentanil; however, much larger doses of buprenorphine were required to suppress cocaine-reinforced as opposed to alfentanil-reinforced responding. Neither cocaine nor alfentanil dose-effect curves were shifted to the right by buprenorphine, but were simply shifted downward. Opioid agonists heroin and nalbuphine produced similar downward shifts in both alfentanil and cocaine dose-effect curves; unlike buprenorphine, similar doses of heroin and nalbuphine suppressed behavior maintained by both cocaine and alfentanil. Increasing doses of the pure opioid antagonist quadazocine produced shifts to the right in the alfentanil rate-maintaining dose-effect curves but had no dose-related effect on behavior maintained by cocaine. The data suggest that buprenorphine suppresses drug-maintained responding through an agonist action but that alfentanil-maintained responding is uniquely sensitive to buprenorphine's effects.