To determine whether halothane and methoxyflurane are suitable anesthetics for cardiac puncture in studies of plasma corticosterone concentration in rats, four experiments were done. Blood samples were taken immediately after rats became anesthetized with halothane or methoxyflurane. Decapitation without anesthesia was used to determine baseline corticosterone concentration. Another group of rats was anesthetized with ether as a positive control (known to stimulate corticosterone secretion). Corticosterone values in halothane- and methoxyflurane-treated rats were not significantly different from those measured after decapitation. Corticosterone concentration in halothane-treated rats was significantly lower than that in either methoxyflurane- or ether-treated rats. Cardiac puncture was done after 3 min of exposure to each of the three anesthetics. The results indicated that there were no differences in corticosterone values among the three anesthetics, suggesting that corticosterone concentration was lower immediately after halothane was used as the anesthetic, because halothane induced anesthesia in less time than that required for activation of adrenocortical secretion. To determine whether there was a difference among anesthetics in stimulating corticosterone secretion when anesthesia was maintained for a period before blood sample collection, cardiac puncture was done after 15 min of exposure to each of the three anesthetics. Corticosterone values were similar, suggesting that any of the three anesthetics was acceptable in this situation. To determine whether halothane or methoxyflurane affected exercise-induced increases in corticosterone values, exercise-trained rats were run for 30 min; then blood samples were collected by cardiac puncture immediately after induction of anesthesia with halothane, methoxyflurane, or ether, or after decapitation without anesthesia. Corticosterone values were not different among the three anesthetics or decapitation.