Benzodiazepines bind to and act on α1-3 and α5-containing GABAA receptors. Previous studies suggest that different GABAA receptor α-subtypes mediate the various behavioral effects of benzodiazepines, which raises the possibility of combining benzodiazepines with subtype-selective GABAA receptor antagonists to improve the therapeutic profiles of benzodiazepines. This study examined the GABAA receptor subtype mediation of the tolerance to midazolam-induced antinociception in rats. Midazolam (3.2 mg/kg) significantly reduced the locomotion in rats which was prevented by the selective α1-preferring GABAA receptor antagonist β-carboline-3-carboxylate-t-butyl ester (βCCt) (3.2 mg/kg). Midazolam increased the paw withdrawal threshold as tested by the von Frey filament assay in the complete Freund's adjuvant-induced inflammatory pain model in rats, and this effect was not altered by βCCt or another α1-preferring GABAA receptor antagonist 3-propoxy-β-carboline hydrochloride (3PBC). Repeated treatment with midazolam in combination with vehicle, βCCt or 3PBC (twice daily) for 7 days led to a progressive increase of the ED50 values in the midazolam- and vehicle-treated rats, but not in other rats, suggesting the development of tolerance to midazolam but not to the combination of midazolam with α1-preferring GABAA receptor antagonists. These results suggest the essential role of the α1-subtype of GABAA receptors in mediating the development of tolerance to midazolam-induced antinociceptive effects and raise the possibility of increasing therapeutic profiles of benzodiazepines by selectively blocking specific α-subtypes of GABAA receptors.