Serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) is a monoaminergic neurotransmitter that is believed to modulate numerous sensory, motor and behavioural processes in the mammalian nervous system. These diverse responses are elicited through the activation of a large family of receptor subtypes. The complexity of this signalling system and the paucity of selective drugs have made it difficult to define specific roles for 5-HT receptor subtypes, or to determine how serotonergic drugs modulate mood and behaviour. To address these issues, we have generated mutant mice lacking functional 5-HT2C receptors (previously termed 5-HT1C), prominent G-protein-coupled receptors that are widely expressed throughout the brain and spinal cord and which have been proposed to mediate numerous central nervous system (CNS) actions of serotonin. Here we show that 5-HT2C receptor-deficient mice are overweight as a result of abnormal control of feeding behaviour, establishing a role for this receptor in the serotonergic control of appetite. Mutant animals are also prone to spontaneous death from seizures, suggesting that 5-HT2C receptors mediate tonic inhibition of neuronal network excitability.