In studies of sensory contributions to motor control, it may be advantageous to temporarily reduce the sensitivity of specific sensory systems. This article details a method for non-invasively inducing cutaneous anesthesia, leaving proprioceptive and motor functions intact. This method, called alternating-pulse iontophoresis, differs from conventional direct-current (DC) iontophoretic drug delivery in that adjacent drug delivery electrodes are stimulated out-of-phase. The total current delivered at any instant is then less than that produced during a comparable DC application, while the uniformity of drug delivery is expected to improve. Effective delivery of local anesthetics to the cutaneous foot soles by alternating-pulse iontophoresis was demonstrated using cutaneous pressure sensory threshold levels (STL's) assessed with Semmes-Weinstein monofilaments (arbitrary units of perceived force, or a.u.). Thirteen of 16 healthy subjects achieved a level of anesthesia greater than or equal to that normally associated with clinical peripheral sensory neuropathy. Average STL's measured prior to the anesthesia procedure were 4.00 a.u. ( approximately 10 mN). Immediately following the procedure, STL's were elevated to an average of 5.40 a.u. ( approximately 246 mN) and averaged 4.97 a.u. ( approximately 92 mN) after 50 min of standing. A number of research and clinical applications for this technique are suggested.