Seventy-five patients meeting international diagnostic criteria for narcolepsy enrolled in a 6-week, three-period, randomized, crossover, placebo-controlled trial. Patients received placebo, modafinil 200 mg, or modafinil 400 mg in divided doses (morning and noon). Evaluations occurred at baseline and at the end of each 2-week period. Compared with placebo, modafinil 200 and 400 mg significantly increased the mean sleep latency on the Maintenance of Wakefulness Test by 40% and 54%, with no significant difference between the two doses. Modafinil, 200 and 400 mg, also reduced the combined number of daytime sleep episodes and periods of severe sleepiness noted in sleep logs. The likelihood of falling asleep as measured by the Epworth Sleepiness Scale was equally reduced by both modafinil dose levels. There were no effects on nocturnal sleep initiation, maintenance, or architecture, nor were there any effects on sleep apnea or periodic leg movements. Neither dose interfered with the patients' ability to nap voluntarily during the day nor with their quantity or quality of nocturnal sleep. Modafinil produced no changes in blood pressure or heart rate in either normotensive or hypertensive patients. The only significant adverse effects were seen at the 400-mg dose, which was associated with more nausea and more nervousness than either placebo or the 200-mg dose. As little as a 200-mg daily dose of modafinil is therefore an effective and well-tolerated treatment of excessive daytime somnolence in narcoleptic persons.