Dezocine is an agonist-antagonist opiate that acts at the mu receptor, and is used for management of pain. Monkeys will readily press a lever to receive an injection of dezocine, and in former opiate addicts dezocine produces positive subjective effects similar to those of morphine. It is not clear, however, what its subjective effects are in people who do not have a history of opiate abuse. To answer this question, a within-subjects design was used in which 10 normal healthy volunteers (six men, four women) were injected with 0, 2.5, 5.0, and 10 mg/70 kg of dezocine in a double-blind fashion. Subjects completed several questionnaires (e.g., Addiction Research Center Inventory) commonly used in abuse liability testing before and at periodic intervals for up to 5 h after drug injection. We also assessed psychomotor performance (e.g., eye-hand coordination) and several physiologic measures (e.g., pupil size, respiration rate) at these times. Dezocine produced increases in ratings of drug liking (P less than 0.001), as well as other subjective effects that might be considered as pleasant ("good mood," "drunken," "coasting," "happy" ratings) (all P less than 0.05). At the same time, the drug had effects (increased dysphoria and sedation) that typically are not reported by addicts. Dezocine produced psychomotor impairment and miosis (constriction of the pupils) in a dose-dependent fashion. The observation that dezocine produces euphoria and increased drug-liking ratings in individuals without histories of drug abuse suggests that hospitals and surgicenters should have strict accountability procedures with this drug.