Morphine is a potent opioid analgesic used to alleviate moderate or severe pain, but the development of drug tolerance and dependence limits its use in pain management. Our previous studies showed that the candidate protein for I1 imidazoline receptor, imidazoline receptor antisera-selected (IRAS)/Nischarin, interacts with μ opioid receptor (MOR) and modulates its trafficking. However, there is no report of the effect of IRAS on morphine tolerance and physical dependence. In the present study, we found that IRAS knockout (KO) mice showed exacerbated analgesic tolerance and physical dependence compared to wild-type (WT) mice by chronic morphine treatment. Chronic morphine treatment down-regulated the expression of MOR in spinal cord of IRAS KO mice, while had no significant effect on MOR expression in WT mice. We observed the compensatory increase of cAMP accumulation in spinal cord after morphine tolerance, and this change was more significant in KO mice than WT mice. Furthermore, KO mice showed more elevation in the phosphorylation of AMPA receptor GluR1-S845 than WT mice, while the total expression of GluR1 remained unchanged after morphine dependence. Altogether, these data suggest that IRAS may play an important role in the development of morphine tolerance and physical dependence in vivo through modulating MOR expression, as well as AMPA GluR1-S845 phosphorylation, which might be one of the mechanisms underlying the development of opiate addiction.