Conditioned place preference and locomotor sensitization are rodent behavioral models commonly used to investigate the actions of drugs of abuse. However, few studies have examined both paradigms in the same group of animals. We were interested in developing a combined protocol which successfully induced both conditioned place preference and sensitization simultaneously in cocaine-treated Sprague-Dawley rats in order to test the hypothesis that the magnitude of these two phenomena would be positively correlated. We used an open-field with a removable place preference insert to assess these measures independently. Cocaine-conditioned animals demonstrated a significant shift in preference for the drug-paired compartment and a sensitized locomotor response which was not observed in saline-conditioned animals challenged with cocaine. There was no significant relationship between locomotor sensitization and conditioned place preference in individual animals. We further examined these results with respect to each rat's initial response to cocaine, response to a novel environment and central zone entries in an open-field. Locomotor sensitization demonstrated an inverse correlation with the initial cocaine response. In contrast, conditioned place preference demonstrated an inverse correlation with the centre response. These results demonstrate that the combination of the acute cocaine response and the centre response in a novel open-field environment can be used to indicate the propensity of a given rat to exhibit either behavioral sensitization or conditioned place preference; however, it seems that sensitization and place preference are not necessarily co-expressed to a similar extent in the same individual animal. (c) 2008 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.