To clarify the effect of locus coeruleus (LC) lesions in sleep mechanisms, modifications in the amount of wakefulness (W), drowsiness (D), slow sleep (SS) and paradoxical sleep (PS) were examined in 9 cats with unilateral lesions in the dorso-lateral pontine tegmentum and in 3 sham-operated controls. In 4 animals the LC area was unilaterally destroyed--affecting structures that have previously been proposed as PGO-off elements--while the remaining 5 cats had lesions situated close to but sparing the LC area. Analysis of variance among baseline values of all cats, 'postlesion' values of the sham-operated controls and the postlesion values of the 2 groups of operated animals, indicated that the variations of W, D and SS among the different groups were not statistically significant. Only variations in the time spent in PS reached statistically significant values. Individual comparisons between PS values of the 4 groups showed that only an increase of PS in the animals with lesions in the LC area was statistically significant, in comparison with the PS values of the remaining groups. These results indicate that the dorso-lateral pontine area, which is considered to exert a tonic inhibitory influence in the generation of the phasic activity during PS, also mediates in the sleep-wakefulness cycle as an inhibitory region for controlling proportions of PS.