The mandibular motor pattern induced by the phosphodiesterase inhibitor 3-isobutyl-1-methylxanthine (IBMX) in isolated locust suboesophageal ganglia (SOG) was investigated and compared with the motor pattern induced by pilocarpine in an already established preparation of the SOG. Motor patterns occurring after bath application of IBMX or pilocarpine were recorded extracellularly from suitable nerves of isolated SOG. For a quantitative evaluation of long (15 min) sequences of rhythmic neural activity containing several hundred cycles, spectral analysis of spike trains was applied. Using a set of characteristic parameters extracted from spectra computed for each individual preparation, quantitative comparisons of the rhythms induced by IBMX and pilocarpine were made. Significant differences in regularity, frequency of oscillation, and intra-burst frequency were found whereas the phase relationships of different motor pools were similar. Differences in the effect of the drugs on the activity recorded extracellularly from mandibular closer motoneurones were investigated further using intracellular recordings. Our findings imply that the IBMX-induced motor pattern is a suitable in vitro model of mandibular central motor control like the pilocarpine induced pattern. The better regularity is an advantageous feature for further experiments on central pattern generation. Information on second messengers involved in central pattern generation provided by the pharmacological profile of IBMX forms a basis for pharmacological and histological investigations on the mandibular central pattern generating network.