Cannabinoids produce antinociception via specific cannabinoid receptor activation, but there are also non-receptor mediated effects like for example the activation of the arachidonic acid cascade. Here we investigate the influence of cannabinoids (CB) on sleep duration after isoflurane anesthesia. We found that the CB receptor agonists R(-)-7-hydroxydelta-6-tetra-hydrocannabinol-dimethylheptyl (HU-210) (0.1 mg/kg), 2-O-arachidonoylglycerylether (30 mg/kg) and arachidonyl-2-chloroethylamide (3 mg/kg) significantly prolong the duration of isoflurane induced sleep in mice (P < 0.05). This effect was absent when co-injecting the selective CB, antagonist N-(piperidin-1-yl)-5-(4-iodophenyl)-1-(2,4-dichlorophenyl)-4-methyl-1H-pyrazole-3-carboxamide (1 mg/kg). Furthermore, HU-210 was ineffective in CB, receptor knockout mice (CB1 -/-). Our behavioral tests (tail flick, rotarod) indicate that the sleep latency can be prolonged even at low drug dosages which do not influence thermal nociception. In the chosen dosages thimerosal (20 mg/kg), 2-AG (10 mg/kg), R-1-methanandamide (R-1-MAEA) (10 mg/kg) and flurbiprofen (27 mg/kg) were ineffective to increase sleep duration. (C) 2002 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.