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Pavlovian conditioning studies with alcohol in humans have been performed exclusively with men subjects. Men demonstrate a placebo response opposite in direction to alcohol, which Newlin (Alcohol Clin Exp Res 9411-416, 1985) termed an antagonistic placebo response. The current study used normal women subjects given alcohol, placebo, or a soft drink control. Placebo significantly (p < 0.05) increased heart rate compared to the control condition, and this placebo response was in the same direction as the effect of alcohol. The correlation of heart rate change with reported intoxication was +0.44 in women, when it was negative in men (Newlin DB Alcohol Clin Exp Rer 9:411-416, 1985). These results, when considered in relation to other data concerning individual differences in antagonistic placebo responding, suggest a pattern in which risk for alcoholism is negatively related to placebo responding.