The results of two previous studies on the effects of modafinil, a selective wakefulness-promoting agent, in healthy university students were combined in a retrospective analysis. This allowed determination of whether the effects of modafinil were dependent on IQ and whether the larger sample size (n=89) would reveal more cognitive benefits. A battery of cognitive tests was completed 2-3 h after dosing. In the whole sample, modafinil (200 mg) significantly reduced the number of missed targets in a test of sustained attention (RVIP). However, interestingly, several interactions between modafinil and IQ emerged. Modafinil (100 and 200 mg) significantly improved target sensitivity in the RVIP test, but only in the group of 'lower' IQ (mean+/-sem=106+/-0.6), not in the 'higher' IQ group (mean+/-sem=115.5+/-0.5). Furthermore, there were significant modafinil x IQ interactions in two further tests. Modafinil significantly reduced speed of responding in a colour naming of dots, and in clock drawing, but only in the 'lower' IQ group. Thus, the cognitive benefits of modafinil seem particularly marked in tests of vigilance and speed, in which sleepiness would be an important factor. Furthermore, the results indicate that high IQ may limit detection of modafinil's positive effects.