Spontaneous locomotor activity of mice was stimulated by IP administration of cocaine and its closely related phenyltropane analogs. In contrast, locomotion was inhibited by IP administration of cocaine congeners such as norcocaine, (+)-pseudococaine, and tropacocaine, and of isomers of phenyltropane analogs. Also inhibitory were the local anesthetics procaine, tetracaine, benzocaine, lidocaine, and prilocaine. The locomotor inhibition induced by IP norcocaine or tetracaine could be reversed by subsequent treatment with cocaine. Both cocaine and norcocaine were centrally stimulatory when injected intracerebroventricularly. The rank order of potencies of cocaine congeners and local anesthetics in depressing locomotion was similar to that of their potencies in interacting with sodium channels. From these results we infer that the locomotor depression induced by systemic administration of cocaine congeners results from a local anesthetic action involving inhibition of the ion conductance of sodium channels.