The hypnotics, quazepam (a benzodiazepine), brotizolam (a thienotriazolodiazepine), zopiclone (a cyclopyrrolone) and zolpidem (an imidazopyridine) have a common ability to bind to the benzodiazepine recognition site (omega receptor) within the GABAA receptor. For this reason we compared their pharmacological profiles in mice. All compounds shared anticonvulsant and central depressant effects. However, the sedative activity of zolpidem appeared at much lower doses than did the anticonvulsant and myorelaxant effects but the opposite was observed with the other hypnotics. In contrast to brotizolam, quazepam and zopiclone, zolpidem did not increase food intake in mice placed in a novel environment, indicating that this drug lacks disinhibitory activity. Moreover the efficacy of zolpidem at the GABAA receptor, as indicated by its activity against convulsions induced by the GABA synthesis inhibitor, isoniazid, was much greater than that of other hypnotics. These results suggest that the hypnoselective properties observed with zolpidem might be related to a high selectivity for the omega 1 recognition site of the GABAA receptor coupled with a very high intrinsic activity.