An animal model of sexual fetishism was developed with male Japanese quail based on persistence of conditioned sexual responding during extinction to an inanimate object made of terrycloth (Experiments 1 and 3). This persistent responding occurred only in subjects that came to copulate with the terrycloth object, suggesting that the copulatory behavior served to maintain the fetishistic behavior. Sexual conditioning was carried out by pairing a conditioned stimulus (CS) with the opportunity to copulate with a female (the unconditioned stimulus or US). Copulation with the CS object and persistent responding did not develop if the CS was a light (Experiment 1) or if conditioning was carried out with a food US (Experiment 2). In addition, subjects that showed persistence in responding to the terrycloth CS did not persist in their responding to a light CS (Experiment 3). The results are consistent with the hypothesis that conditioned copulatory behavior creates a form of self-maintenance that leads to persistent responding to an inanimate object. The development of an animal model of such fetishistic behavior should facilitate experimental analysis of the phenomenon. (C) 2003 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.