5 alpha-Pregnan-3 alpha-ol-20-one (3 alpha-OH-DHP) is a naturally occurring metabolite of progesterone that can modulate brain excitability through a specific steroid recognition site on the GABA/benzodiazepine receptor-chloride ionophore complex. The anticonvulsant properties of 3 alpha-OH-DHP were determined using standardized anticonvulsant screening tests in mice. This steroid was found to be effective against metrazol-, (+)-bicuculline- and picrotoxin-induced seizures. The steroid has maximum potency against (+)-bicuculline-induced convulsions and no activity against maximal electroshock and strychnine-induced seizures. These findings support the hypothesis that therapeutically useful anticonvulsant steroids active at the putative steroid recognition site associated with the GABA/benzodiazepine receptor-chloride ionophore complex can be identified.