Motor activity of laboratory dogs was recorded for several weeks with an ambulatory monitoring device. The effect of 24 h sleep deprivation (SD) on motor activity during recovery was investigated. A clear rest-activity rhythm was established. The dogs exhibited a similar mean daily rest-activity pattern: rest occurred mainly in the dark; the animals were most active after light onset; activity increased during the last two dark hours; a rest period was found at noon and reduced activity during afternoon hours. There was a marked difference in total activity between individual dogs. Activity patterns varied as a function of the day of the week; this may have been a reflection of variations in the level of human activities in the laboratory. There was a significant reduction of motor activity during the 24-h period following SD. This was particularly evident in the first 6 h of the light period immediately following the deprivation. In addition, there was a significant increase in the number of episodes with activity less than or equal to 5 counts during recovery. The study confirms the possibility of measuring motor activity to assess compensatory mechanisms during recovery after SD. Sleep regulation, therefore, does not necessarily need to be exclusively examined by the invasive technique of EEG registration.