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The purpose of the present study is to determine whether the inverse genetic association between alcohol withdrawal magnitude and genetic propensity for alcohol drinking that we have previously identified in alcohol-naive rats given alcohol acutely, would also be seen following chronic alcohol exposure. The effect of forced, chronic alcohol treatment on subsequent voluntary alcohol drinking was also examined.Male rats from the high alcohol drinking (HAD2) and low alcohol drinking (LAD2) lines received two intragastric (IG) infusions of alcohol (3.0 g/kg BW; 25% v/v) or an equal volume of water, separated by 5 h, every day for 20 consecutive days (chronic alcohol treatment). Acoustic startle reactivity was assessed at 10, 14, and 18 h after the second infusion on days 1, 5, 10, 15, and 20. After acoustic startle testing was completed, all rats received two IG infusions of 3.0 g alcohol/kg BW, separated by 5 h, and blood alcohol content was assessed at 10, 14, and 18 h after the second alcohol infusion. All rats were then given a 24 h free-choice between alcohol and water for 8 weeks.Startle magnitude to a 120 dB tone was suppressed during alcohol withdrawal in both alcohol-treated HAD2 and LAD2 rats after 5, 10, and 15 days of alcohol treatment. Forced, chronic alcohol treatment produced metabolic tolerance in both the HAD2 and LAD2 lines and significantly suppressed subsequent voluntary alcohol intake in rats of the HAD2 line.Reduced acoustic startle reactivity during alcohol withdrawal in both HAD2 and LAD2 rats is consistent with our previous findings in the HAD2 but not the LAD2 line and may reflect reduced CNS excitability during withdrawal from forced alcohol exposure. Forced alcohol exposure robustly retarded the expression of a genetic predisposition toward alcohol drinking in rats selectively bred for high alcohol intake.