The syntheses of some 1-[(3,4-dichlorophenyl)acetyl]-2- [(alkylamino)methyl]piperidines and their activities as kappa-opioid receptor agonists are described. Selected structural modifications are made to the basic moiety and at the 2-, 3-, 4-, 5-, and 6-positions on the piperidine nucleus to enable structure-activity relationships to be delineated. As a result, some highly potent and selective kappa-receptor agonists have been identified. In particular, this has been achieved by introduction of oxygen-containing functionality into the 4-position of the piperidine nucleus or the 3-position of the pyrrolidinylmethyl side chain. Thus, 1-[(3,4-dichlorophenyl)acetyl]- 2-[[1-(3-oxopyrrolidinyl)]methyl]piperidine (10) possesses high activity in the rabbit vas deferens (LVD, kappa-specific tissue) (IC50 = 0.20 nM) and is a potent antinociceptive agent, as determined by the mouse acetylcholine-induced abdominal constriction test (MAC) (ED50 = 0.06 mg/kg, sc). The spirocyclic analogue 8-[(3,4-dichlorophenyl)acetyl]-7-(1-pyrrolidinylmethyl)-1,4-dio xa-8- azaspirol4.5]decane (39) showed exceptionally potent activity: LVD, IC50 = 0.10 nM; MAC, ED50 = 0.001 mg/kg, sc. Both 10 and 39 displayed high selectivity for kappa-opioid receptors over both mu- and delta-opioid receptor subtypes.