Stress and anxiety are often implicated in excessive alcohol use. The nature of this interaction, however, is not understood. The aim of this study was to examine the effect of the anxiogenic agent, pentylenetetrazole (PTZ), on the acquisition and maintenance of ethanol drinking behavior in male Wistar rats. In rats maintained on a limited access procedure, with a choice between a 12% w/v ethanol (ETOH) solution and water available for 30 min each day, acute PTZ administration (1.5 to 15.0 mg/kg) did not modify ETOH intake. Chronic PTZ administration elicited a significant suppression in ETOH intake; however, this effect developed gradually over time. During the acquisition phase, chronic PTZ treatment also suppressed ETOH consumption. Chronic, but not acute, treatment with PTZ seemed to enhance water consumption. To assess whether the effect of PTZ on ETOH intake was due to either alterations in ETOH kinetics or behavior, blood ETOH levels and social interaction behaviour were examined. PTZ (15.0 mg/kg) produced a significant suppression in social interaction behavior, although tolerance developed to this effect on chronic PTZ administration. Both acute and chronic PTZ treatment (15 mg/kg) resulted in lower blood ETOH levels achieved after administration of 1.0 g/kg po of ETOH. Because the anxiogenic effect of PTZ was not maintained on repeated administration, yet the suppression of ETOH intake was only observed after chronic treatment, this suggests a dissociation between the processes regulating these behaviors.