The effects of several centrally active drugs were investigated using two visual discrimination tasks: a two-lever food-rewarded conditional brightness discrimination, and a similar conditional brightness discrimination where a delay was introduced between the disappearance of the stimulus and the opportunity to respond on the levers for food. The substances tested (amphetamine, scopolamine, methylscopolamine, physostigmine, diazepam and beta-carboline benzodiazepine receptor antagonist, ZK 93426), all produced differing profiles of action on the performance parameters recorded. In the simple conditional visual discrimination, amphetamine increased omissions without significant effects on accuracy or response latency. Physostigmine enhanced response latencies and failures to respond without significant effects on accuracy. ZK 93426 had no consistent effects on accuracy although at higher doses, some increase in response latency was seen in the delayed responding version of the visual discrimination task. Diazepam had negative effects on all parameters in both discrimination procedures. Scopolamine disrupted responding, but not accuracy in the simple discrimination, whereas accuracy was reduced in a dose, but not delay dependent manner in the delayed discrimination. A similar effect to that observed with scopolamine was observed following methylscopolamine in the delayed discrimination procedure. In the simple visual discrimination small increases in accuracy were recorded, accompanied by increased response latencies.