Exposure to HIV-1 trans-activator of transcription (Tat) protein potentiates the psychostimulant effects of cocaine, but the functional consequences of the interaction between HIV-1 Tat and other abused drugs is poorly understood. We hypothesized that exposure to HIV-1 Tat would potentiate the rewarding effects of ethanol. GT-tg transgenic mice, where Tat protein is conditionally expressed in brain by a doxycycline-dependent GFAP-linked promoter, were used to test the effects of Tat on ethanol-conditioned place preference (CPP). Compared to uninduced littermates or doxycycline-treated C57BL/6J mice, Tat-induced GT-tg mice demonstrated a 3-fold increase in ethanol-CPP. The potentiation of ethanol-CPP was dependent on the dose and duration of doxycycline treatment used to express Tat protein. Moreover, induction of Tat protein after the extinction of CPP produced reinstatement without additional exposure to ethanol. Together, these data suggest that CNS exposure to HIV-1 Tat protein potentiates the rewarding effects of ethanol in mice.