Optogenetic targeting of specific cell populations in rats has not been possible until now. A new study demonstrates a method for creating genetically restricted, recombinase-driven rat lines in which opsins can be expressed in specific populations of neurons. Witten et al. generated tyrosine hydroxylase–Cre lines to target dopaminergic neurons and created choline acetyltransferase–Cre lines to target cholinergic neurons. Optical stimulation of the dopaminergic neurons was sufficient to induce self-stimulation in a model of positive reinforcement. These findings are a promising indicator of the future utility of this approach in rodent models.