The core sub compartment of the nucleus accumbens (NAcore) contributes significantly to behavioral responses following motivationally relevant stimuli, including drug-induced, stress-induced, and cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking. Projections from NAcore that could carry information necessary to initiate reinstated cocaine seeking include outputs via the indirect pathway to the dorsolateral subcompartment of the ventral pallidum (dlVP) and through the direct pathway to the medial substantia nigra (SN). Here we used an optogenetic strategy to determine whether the dlVP or nigral projections from the NAcore are necessary for cocaine seeking initiated by a cocaine and conditioned cue combination in rats extinguished from cocaine self-administration. Rats were pretreated in the NAcore with an adeno-associated virus expressing the inhibitory opsin archaerhodopsin, and fiber-optic cannulae were implanted above the indirect pathway axon terminal field in the dlVP, or the direct pathway terminal field in the SN. Inhibiting the indirect pathway to the dlVP, but not the direct pathway to the SN, prevented cocaine-plus-cue-induced reinstatement. We also examined projections back to the NAcore from the ventral tegmental area (VTA) and dlVP. Inhibiting the dlVP to NAcore projection did not alter, while inhibiting VTA afferents abolished reinstated cocaine seeking. Localization of green fluorescent protein reporter expression and whole-cell patch electrophysiology were used to verify opsin expression. These data reveal a circuit involving activation of VTA inputs to the NAcore and NAcore projections through the indirect pathway to the dlVP as critical for cocaine-plus-cue-induced reinstatement of cocaine seeking.