Opioids are the most effective compounds available for the relief of pain, yet there are a number of side effects that are of great concern to clinicians. For example, opioids are powerful reinforcers, and the treatment of pain using opioids could lead to the development of addiction. In addition, there is an increasing body of literature demonstrating that the repeated administration of opioids could lead to a phenomenon called opioid-induced hyperalgesia (i.e., increased sensitivity to painful stimulation). Studies examining these potential adverse effects are necessary in the development of novel analgesics. Furthermore, most studies of pain sensitivity and pain relief use reflex-based procedures to identify analgesics; however, it is argued here that operant-based procedures provide measures that are more analogous to the human condition (i.e., the mechanisms of pain are similar to those in humans) and should be useful in the assessment of novel analgesics. A series of studies examining the effects of opioids and the influence of variables such as age are discussed to demonstrate the utility of this approach. © 2008 American Psychological Association.