Core body temperature is maintained through a combination of physiological and behavioral effector mechanisms. While the neural pathways involved in autonomic responses to a heat stress are slowly being unraveled, those controlling behavioral responses have remained elusive. We have recently demonstrated that the tissue that surrounds the anteroventral third ventricular region (AV3V) has an important role in the autonomic response to a heat stress. The purpose of the present study was to determine the impact lesions of the AV3V have on naturally occurring thermoregulatory behaviors. Core temperature was elevated at a constant rate (0.03 degrees C/min) for 90 min using an infrared heat lamp. Animals were videotaped and scored throughout the heating protocol for grooming, escape jumps and postural extension. The frequency of escape jumps and adoption of an extended posture were significantly reduced in AV3V-lesion rats. In contrast, grooming behavior was unaffected by AV3V lesions, although heat-induced salivation was markedly attenuated. These results demonstrate that the AV3V region is pivotal in the regulation of both autonomic and behavioral thermoregulatory effector mechanisms.