A single i.c.v. injection of 100 ng of AVP, followed 30 min later by an i.p. injection of EtOH (1.8 g/kg) and three 2-min trials of motor-impairment testing on a moving belt, resulted in the development of tolerance to this effect of EtOH, that lasted up to 4 weeks. The rate of tolerance loss was not altered by daily injection of a V1 receptor antagonist, but pretreatment with a V1 receptor antagonist or cycloheximide prevented this AVP facilitation of the development of tolerance to EtOH-induced motor impairment. The destruction of serotonin neuronal terminals by i.c.v. injection of 5,7-dihydroxytryptamine also prevented the development of tolerance after a single exposure to AVP + EtOH, but the destruction of catecholamine terminals by i.c.v. injection of 6-hydroxydopamine did not prevent such tolerance. In contrast to the findings with motor impairment, no tolerance to EtOH-induced hypothermia and loss of righting reflex developed after a single combined AVP-EtOH treatment. The tolerance that develops after one treatment with AVP-EtOH is a functional rather than a dispositional tolerance, and shares many pharmacological properties with chronic tolerance to EtOH.