The molecular motion and distribution of the inhalation anesthetic halothane (2-bromo-2-chloro-1,1,1-trifluoroethane) in a phospholipid bilayer model nerve membrane preparation was studied using fluorine nuclear magnetic resonance. Bilayers containing stable free radicals at known depths were studied to measure possible localization of halothane within certain areas of the bilayer. Bilayer suspensions containing manganese ions in the aqueous phase were used to test the partition of halothane between the aqueous and lipid phases. It was found that halothane rapidly achieves complete exchange throughout the bilayer and the surrounding aqueous phase. The results provide experimental evidence against the formation of anesthetic clathrates hypothesized by Pauling and Miller in their theories of anesthesia.