1. CI-977 is a new, nonpeptide kappa-opioid compound that has been synthesized and its pharmacological properties determined in a series of in vitro and in vivo rodent models. 2. In a radioligand binding studies, with guinea-pig forebrain homogenates, CI-977 bound with high affinity to [3H]-U69593-labelled kappa-sites (Ki = 0.11 nM) but with low affinity to [3H]-[D-Ala2, MePhe4, Gly-ol5] enkephalin (DAMGO) labelled mu-sites (Ki = 99 nM) and [3H]-[D-Pen2.5]enkephalin (DPDPE) labelled delta-sites (Ki = 1.04 microM). CI-977 also bound with negligible affinity to [3H]-(+)-3-(1-propyl-3-piperi-dinyl)phenol (3-PPP) labelled sigma-sites (Ki = 1.9 microM) and [3H]-1-(1-[2-thienyl]cyclohexyl)piperidine (TCP) labelled PCP sites (Ki greater than 10 microM). 3. CI-977 produced a potent inhibition of the electrically-evoked contractions of the guinea-pig ileum and rabbit vas deferens with IC50 values of 0.087 nM and 3.3 nM, respectively. The pKB values for the opioid antagonists naloxone (7.6) and norbinaltorphimine (10.5) supported the kappa nature of the CI-977-mediated effects in the smooth muscle assays. 4. CI-977 was a potent antinociceptive agent against a mechanical noxious stimulus in rats following intravenous, intramuscular, subcutaneous and oral administration. CI-977 was also effective against mechanical and chemical noxious stimuli in the mouse but ineffective against a thermal stimulus. The antinociceptive effects produced by CI-977 were completely reversed by naloxone (1 mg kg-1, s.c.). 5. At doses close to those required to produce antinociception, CI-977 also caused a naloxone-reversible diuresis and inhibition of locomotor activity.6. The in vitro and in vivo pharmacological profile of CI-977 demonstrates that it is a potent and selective agonist at the Kappa-opioid receptor.