AR-A008055 [(±)-1-(4-methyl-5-thiazolyl)-1-phenylmethylamine] is structurally related to clomethiazole and has been used to probe the mechanism of the neuroprotective effect of clomethiazole. Clomethiazole, (±)-AR-A008055 and (S)-(')-AR-A008055 all displaced [35S]-t-butyl-bicyclophosphorothionate ([35S]TBPS) from rat cerebral cortex tissue (IC50 values: GABA, 8.1±0.04 'M; clomethiazole, 130±30 'M; (±)-AR-A008055, 494±7 'M; (S)-(')-AR-A008055, 221±14 'M. (R)-(+)-AR-A008055 was without significant effect (IC50>1000 'M). None of the compounds interacted with NMDA or AMPA receptors or with sodium or calcium (N, P/Q) channels. Brain penetration of both enantiomers following their i.p. administration was excellent, with brain and plasma concentrations being similar. Clomethiazole dose-dependently inhibited spontaneous locomotor activity in rats and was approximately 10 times more sedative than either enantiomer of AR-A008055. Clomethiazole was more potent than (S)-(')-AR-A008055 in the 'pull-up' test (muscle relaxation) and in producing loss of righting reflex, while (R)-(+)-AR-A008055 had little effect. The time animals remained on a Rota-rod was of the order: clomethiazole<(S)-(')-AR-A008055<(R)-(+)-AR-A008055. (S)-(')-AR-A008055 (210 'mol/kg) raised seizure threshold to pentylenetetrazole (i.v.) by 119±21%. The (R)-(+)- enantiomer was not anticonvulsant. Overall, (S)-(')-AR-A008055 exhibited a similar pharmacology to clomethiazole. However, its sedative and muscle relaxant effects were substantially less than clomethiazole, emphasising that these properties are not directly related to neuroprotective efficacy. The current data suggest that the proposed GABA uptake inhibitory property of (R)-(+)-AR-A008055 fails to produce significant sedative, myorelaxant or anticonvulsant activity.