The kappa opioid receptor (KOP) system modulates social play responding, however a paucity of studies have examined effects on social motivation and cognition in the absence of play. Prenatal exposure to the anti-epileptic and mood stabiliser valproic acid (VPA) is associated with impaired social responding and altered gene expression of KOP (oprk1) and dynorphin (pdyn) in several brain regions. The present study examined if pharmacological modulation of KOP altered social motivation and cognition, immediate early gene (IEG) and oprk1-pdyn expression in adolescent male rats and rats prenatally exposed to VPA. In control rats, the KOP antagonist DIPPA enhanced sociability, while both DIPPA and the KOP agonist U50488 decreased social novelty preference. In rats exposed prenatally to VPA, neither U50488 nor DIPPA altered sociability or social novelty preference. Analysis of IEG expression revealed that DIPPA reduced expression of egr-1 expression in the prefrontal cortex of control rats and U50488 increased junb expression in the PFC of both control and VPA-exposed rats. VPA-exposed rats exhibited increased expression of oprk1 and pdyn in the prefrontal cortex and amygdala compared with control rats. DIPPA and U50488 increased oprk1 expression in the amygdala of control rats and decreased oprk1 expression in the prefrontal cortex of VPA-exposed rats. Taken together, these data demonstrate that pharmacological modulation of the KOP system alters social motivation and cognition in control rats, an effect not observed in rats prenatally exposed to VPA. These data provide support that prenatal exposure to VPA is associated with alterations in the expression and functionality of KOP system.