Total exploratory drilling in Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, and Georgia decreased by 19.8% in 1981. A total of 333 tests was drilled compared with 415 in 1981, and 46 were successfully completed for a 13.8% success rate. Mississippi was the most active state, with 249 exploratory tests and 24 of the new-field discoveries. The leading drilling trend was the shallow Eocene Wilcox in Southwest Mississippi. Drilling in the Jurassic trend accounted for 19.2% of the total tests and 8 new-field discoveries.--Modified journal abstract.