To assess tolerance to cocaine in a self-administration paradigm, rats were trained to self-administer cocaine (0.25 mg/ injection) on a fixed-ratio 2 (FR2) schedule of reinforcement. The development of tolerance was studied during chronic administration of cocaine (20 mg/kg per 8 h for 10 days), given either contingently (self-administered by the rats) or non-contingently (infused by the experimenter). Both contingent and non-contingent administration of cocaine produced comparable tolerance, as indicated by a faster rate of cocaine self-administration (the average inter-reinforcer time, ISRT, decreased significantly). Tolerance developed by day 2 of the chronic regimen and reached a floor value (60% of baseline) from day 4 through day 10. Termination of chronic cocaine then resulted in recovery from tolerance, with ISRTs returning to baseline within 6 days of termination. A second set of experiments determined whether tolerance could be studied using a multi-dose method to obtain doseresponse data in a single session. A system of multiple pumps allowed testing of three doses of cocaine during a single experimental session. Cocaine dose-response curves obtained from the multi-dose method: (i) did not differ from that obtained from a single-dose method; (ii) were reproducible; and (iii) were shifted to the right by Schering 23390. Rats were then subjected to a 7-day chronic regimen of infused cocaine (20 mg/kg per 8 h) or infused saline. At the end of this chronic cocaine period, they were tested with the multi-dose method. Chronic cocaine, as compared to chronic saline, shifted the cocaine dose-response curve to the right, indicating that the multi-dose method can be successfully applied to demonstrate tolerance to the effects of cocaine in a self-administration paradigm.