Urokinase-type plasminogen activator (uPA) and tissue-type plasminogen activator (tPA) are extracellular proteases that play a role in synaptic plasticity and remodeling. Psychostimulants induce both tPA and uPA in acute and chronic drug delivery, but cocaine induces preferentially uPA, whereas morphine and amphetamine induce preferentially tPA. Specific doxycline-regulatable lentiviruses expressing these extracellular proteases have been prepared and stereotaxically injected into the nucleus accumbens. We show that tPA-overexpressing animals show greater locomotor activity and behavioral sensitization upon morphine and amphetamine treatments. These effects could be fully suppressed by doxycycline or when tPA had been silenced using small interfering RNAs (siRNAs)-expressing lentiviruses. Furthermore, animals infected with lentiviruses expressing uPA show enhanced conditional place preference for cocaine compared with tPA-overexpressing animals. In contrast, tPA-overexpressing animals when administered amphetamine or morphine showed greater place preference compared with uPA-overexpressing animals. The effects are suppressed when tPA has been silenced using specific siRNAs-expressing vectors. Tissue-type plasminogen activator and uPA possibly induce distinct behaviors, which may be interpreted according to their differential pattern of activation and downstream targets. Taken together, these data add further evidence for a significant function of extracellular proteases tPA and uPA in addiction and suggest a differential role of plasminogen activators in this context. © 2007 The Authors.