Unlike normal rats, adrenalectomized rats do not voluntarily drink sweet saccharin solutions. To test whether this is a function of corticosterone in the circulation, and if corticosterone also increases the impetus for drinking saccharin after a period of withdrawal, we performed the following experiments. Young male rats were sham adrenalectomized (sham) or adrenalectomized (ADX); the ADX rats were provided with subcutaneous pellets containing (percent replacement of corticosterone, %B) 0%B, 15%B, 30%B or 100%B. Sham and ADX rats were immediately provided with saline (0.5%) and saccharin (2 mM) bottles in their home cages. Saccharin was allowed for 4 days on, 3 days off, 4 days on, 3 days off and a final day on, over the 15 days experiment. The dose of corticosterone determined both how much saccharin was voluntarily drunk by the ADX rats and the degree of overshoot after days off. Corticosterone also determined energy balance of the groups of ADX rats. The 30%B pellets restored food intake, body weight gain, insulin and caloric efficiency to the normal levels observed in sham rats. White fat depot weights and uncoupling protein concentration in brown adipose tissue were restored to sham levels by 100%B, suggesting that these variables which depend on activity in the sympathetic nervous system require considerable glucocorticoid receptor occupancy. We conclude that corticosterone increases the willingness to ingest sweetened water in a unimodal, dose-related manner, while moderate doses of corticosterone restore energy balance.