1. In the mollusc Tritonia escape swimming is produced by a network of central pattern generator (CPG) neurons. The purpose of this study was to determine which neurotransmitters might be involved in the swim system. 2. Injection of serotonin (5HT) into whole animals elicited swimming followed by a long-lasting inhibition of swimming. In isolated brain preparations, bath-applied 5HT elicited a swim pattern at short latency and also caused a long-lasting inhibition of the swim pattern. The activation of swimming by 5HT was associated with a tonic depolarization of cerebral cell 2 (C2) and the dorsal swim interneurons (DSI) which form part of the swim CPG network. 3. In isolated brain preparations, bath applied glycine, histamine, proctolin, and FMFRamide had no effect on the swim motor pattern elicited by electrical stimulation of a peripheral nerve. Aspartate, carbacol, dopamine, glutamate, octopamine, pilocarpine, and small cardioactive peptide-B (SCPB) inhibited the activation of swimming by nerve stimulation. 4. The 5HT antagonists cyproheptidine, tryptamine, and 7-methyltryptamine had no effect on swimming, but methysergide and fenfluramine inhibited swimming to both normal sensory stimuli and exogenously applied 5HT. 5. Staining with a polyclonal antibody indicated that one class of CPG neurons, the dorsal swim interneurons (DSI), was immunoreactive for 5HT.