1. In standing humans, toe-up rotation of a platform induces a short-latency (SLR) and a medium-latency response (MLR) in both soleus (Sol) and flexor digitorum brevis (FDB) muscles. Toe-down rotation evokes a MLR in the tibialis anterior (TA). The SLR is the counterpart of the monosynaptic stretch reflex, but the origin of the MLR is still debated. By means of tizanidine (an alpha 2-adrenergic receptor agonist) we tested the hypothesis that the MLR is relayed by group II afferent fibres, since animal data indicate that tizanidine or stimulation of monoaminergic brainstem centres decrease the excitability of spinal interneurones supplied by those fibres. In addition, we compared the effect of the drug on these responses with that induced by stabilization of posture. 2. Eight subjects received tizanidine (150 micrograms kg-1 orally) or placebo, in a single-blind design. Platform rotations were delivered prior to administration and for 3 h afterwards. Both TA- and FDB-MLRs decreased in size, starting from about 1 h after tizanidine administration. Sol-SLR was unaffected. Response latencies were unchanged. Placebo induced no changes in any response. In each subject, the extent of TA-MLR depression induced by holding onto a frame and by tizanidine was superimposable. 3. The selective effect of tizanidine on MLR supports the notion that it is relayed through group II afferent fibres. The similar effects of holding and tizanidine on the response suggests that it is modulated by monoaminergic centres.