Despite gamma-hydroxybutyrate (GHB) therapeutic uses and the increasing concern about its toxicity, few studies have addressed GHB dose-related effects under controlled administration and their relationship with its pharmacokinetics. The study design was double-blind, randomized, crossover, and controlled. As a pilot pharmacology phase I study, increasing doses of GHB were given. Single oral sodium GHB doses (40, 50, 60, and 72 mg/kg) were administered to eight volunteers. Plasma and urine were analyzed for GHB by gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Physiological effects, psychomotor performance, and subjective effects were examined simultaneously. GHB produced dose-related changes in subjective effects as measured by questionnaires and VAS. GHB showed a mixed stimulant-sedative pattern, with initially increased scores in subjective feeling of euphoria, high, and liking followed by mild-moderate symptoms of sedation with impairment of performance and balance. Mean peak GHB plasma concentrations were 79.1, 83.1, 113.5, and 130.1 mug/L for 40, 50, 60, and 72 mg/kg, respectively. GHB-mediated physiological and subjective effects were dose dependent and related to GHB plasma concentrations. GHB urinary excretion was mainly related to administered doses. GHB-mediated subjective and physiological effects seem dose dependent and related to GHB plasma concentrations. Results suggest a high abuse liability of GHB in the range of dose usually consumed.