Clinical trials indicate that inositol may be effective in the treatment of patients with depression, panic disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), but not in the treatment of patients with schizophrenia, Alzheimer's disease, ADHD or autism. This spectrum of clinical action parallels that of serotonin selective reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), but inositol is a precursor in the phosphatidylinositol cycle, a second messenger system distal to the receptor for 5HT-2. To study its mechanism of therapeutic action there is a need to test inositol's activity in animal models of psychopathology. In rats, chronic inositol was demonstrated to increase activity levels, reduce immobility time in the forced swim test and in the reserpine-induced hypoactivity models of depression, and reduce anxiety-like behaviors in the elevated plus-maze. The reduction in anxiety-like behaviors appears to be related to baseline levels of activity. Inositol treatment was not observed to have any effect on amphetamine-induced hyperactivity, apomorphine-induced stereotypy, or on the performance of memory tasks by monkeys. Clinical controlled trials of inositol in patients with depression, panic disorder, and OCD were small, and positive psychoactive effects in animals clearly strengthen the case for further clinical trials and potential for general therapeutic use in humans.