Subjective effects of two benzodiazepines--alprazolam and lorazepam--were compared with two drugs of known abuse potential--diazepam and methaqualone--and placebo. This double-blind, crossover trial tested 30 casual recreational sedative users in a seminaturalistic setting. Methaqualone was more euphoriant and less sedative than the benzodiazepines. Diazepam and lorazepam were more euphoriant than placebo; alprazolam's euphoriant effect did not differ from these treatments. On other measures of abuse liability the benzodiazepines rated similarly, diazepam rating highest.