The intravenous analgesic activity and toxicity of a novel series of N-[4-substituted 1-(2-arylethyl)-4-piperidinyl]-N-phenylpropanamides was studied in rats. Onset, potency and duration of analgesic action were assessed in the tail withdrawal test and compared with the activity of fentanyl, (+)-cis-3-methylfentanyl (R 26 800), morphine, and pethidine. All compounds studied were found to be extremely potent analgesics characterized by an unusually high safety margin. Methyl 4-[N-(1-oxopropyl)-N-phenyl-amino]-1-(2-phenylethyl)-4-piperidinecarboxylate (R 31 833; lowest ED50 = 0.00032 mg/kg) is the most potent compound (10 031 times morphine). cis-Methyl 3-methyl-4-[N-(1-oxopropyl)-N-phenylamino]-1-(2-phenylethyl)-4-piperidine carboxylate (R 32 792) is the longest acting compound (more than 8 h at 4 times the lowest ED50) and N-[4-(1-oxopropyl)-1-[2-(2-thienyl)ethyl]-4-piperidinyl]-N-phenylpropanamide (R 33 352) is the shortest acting compound (0.74 h at 4 times the lowest ED50) of the 4-substituted fentanyl derivatives. N-[4-(Methoxymethyl)-1-[2-(2-thienyl)ethyl]-4-piperidinyl]-N-phenylpropanamide (R 30 730) was selected for further investigation. R 30 730 has a rapid onset of action and is 4521 times more potent than morphine at the time of peak effect; it has a relatively short duration of action comparable to that of fentanyl and its safety margin (LD50/lowest ED50 = 25 211) is unusually high.