Red wine, like the drugs reserpine and fenfluramine, causes the release of 5-hydroxytryptamine (5-HT) from storage sites in vitro. This study used a neuroendocrine challenge test design to determine whether the parallel between red wine and these drugs can be extended to central actions in healthy volunteers. Vodka diluted to an equal alcohol content was used as a control. No significant differences were observed between the groups in plasma cortisol, plasma prolactin or in temperature levels. Thus no evidence was obtained for a central 5-HT releasing action by red wine. Self-rating stress and arousal questionnaires were also given. No differences were found in arousal. However whereas vodka had a clear effect in reducing stress, red wine did not. This suggests that red wine does have psychoactive properties independent of its alcohol effects.