The relationship between the opiate peptides Leu-enkephalin and [D-Ala2-Met5]enkephalinamide (DAME) and the initial expression and maintenance of ethanol preference was studied in male Wistar rats. Subcutaneous administration of both peptides prior to the first choice test between water and ethanol induced reductions on ethanol intake and subsequently on total fluid intake. Leu-enkephalin treatment also diminished ethanol preference in the day of treatment and in consecutive days. Neither Leu-enkephalin nor DAME treatments modified rats sucrose preference or intake. The results suggest that the enkephalins studied, when administered in the early phases of ethanol preference, interfere with the mechanisms involved in the propensity to drink ethanol.