The REM sleep-suppressing effect of postsynaptic 5-HT1A stimulation has been well established. Here we investigate the effects of the 5-HT1A agonist ipsapirone (10 and 20 mg) on sleep EEG power spectra during non-REM sleep in nine healthy humans. At the lower dose, slow wave activity (SWA; EEG power in the delta (1-4.5 Hz) range) was significantly enhanced. At the higher dose, where side-effects occurred, the enhancement in SWA was not significant. The spectral profile was characterized by a bimodal increase of power in the lower delta and in the theta (5-8 Hz) frequencies, and by troughs at 4 Hz and at 11 Hz, a pattern compellingly similar to that reported for a 5-HT2 antagonist (seganserin). We propose that the spectral data following the lower ipsapirone dose reflect a net decrease of neuronal activity at 5-HT2 receptors, mediated through stimulation of somatodendritic autoreceptors in the raphe nuclei (presynaptic) and/or through stimulation of postsynaptic 5-HT1A receptors colocalized with 5-HT2 receptors. The spectral non-REM sleep EEG profile might be used to investigate central 5-HT function in humans.