The increasing use of methylphenidate hydrochloride (MPH) in children led us to examine the effects of MPH administration in developing mice. Male CD-1 mice were administered MPH (40 mg/kg, subcutaneously) or saline daily from postnatal days 26-32. The mice were then tested from postnatal days 33-37 for locomotion and exploration in the open field, anxiety in the elevated plus maze, and learning in the Morris water maze. The results indicate that MPH-pretreated mice were more exploratory and less fearful in the open field, entering more center squares than saline controls. MPH-pretreated mice also exhibited less anxiety, spending more time in the open arm and exhibiting more head dips in the elevated plus maze than controls. There was no significant difference between MPH and saline-treated mice in the time taken to find the visible or hidden platform in the water maze task. The results indicate that treatment with MPH has significant effects on later behavior, reducing fear and anxiety, and increasing exploration, but no effect on performance in a spatial learning task.