Zolpidem is a non-benzodiazepine hypnotic drug which displaces benzodiazepines from their binding sites in different brain structures. Previous work has demonstrated several differences between zolpidem and benzodiazepines, including differences between the stimulus properties of zolpidem and chlordiazepoxide. In the present study the discriminative stimulus properties of zolpidem were analysed by training rats to discriminate between this drug and saline. It was found that stimulus control developed readily with 2 mg/kg but not with 1 mg/kg zolpidem. The effect was dose-related, had a short duration of action and was antagonised by Ro 15-1788. Furthermore, stimulus control produced by zolpidem was associated with marked reductions in rates of responding. Injections of chlordiazepoxide, triazolam, lorazepam, zopiclone, CL 218,872 and pentobarbital produced dose-related responding on the zolpidem-associated lever but haloperidol did not. However, in general, the doses of those drugs which produced drug-lever responding also reduced response rates. It is possible that the above mentioned differences between the discriminative stimulus produced by zolpidem in rats and those produced by other sedatives may be due to a selective action of zolpidem on a sub-type of benzodiazepine binding site.