In human males, SSRIs differentially affect (premature) ejaculation; paroxetine and fluoxetine markedly and sertraline, moderately inhibited ejaculation latency, whereas fluvoxamine did not inhibit this parameter (Waldinger, M.D., Hengeveld, M.W., Zwinderman, A.H., Olivier, B., The effect of SSRI antidepressants on ejaculation: a double-blind, randomised, placebo-controlled study with fluoxetine, fluvoxamine, paroxetine and sertraline. J. Clin. Psychopharmacol. (in press)). The present studies tried to investigate, using sexual behaviour in male rats, whether such differences could also be found in animal paradigms of sexual behaviour. In a series of three experiments we compared various specific serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) for their ability to suppress sexual behaviour in male rats. In the first experiment sexually experienced rats were tested 60 min after oral administration of clomipramine, fluvoxamine, fluoxetine (all in a range of 0, 3, 10 and 30 mg/kg p.o.), sertraline or paroxetine (both in a range of 0, 1, 3 and 10 mg/kg p.o.). Clomipramine, paroxetine and fluvoxamine did not significantly inhibit male sexual behaviour, although some trends were observed. Sertraline inhibited sexual behaviour at 3 and 10 mg/kg p.o., the effects being stronger at 3 mg/kg p.o. Fluoxetine (3 mg/kg p.o.) facilitated sexual behaviour, while at 30 mg/kg p.o. a modest increase in the postejaculatory interval was noted. In the second experiment, sexual behaviour of sexually naive male rats was slightly inhibited by paroxetine 10 mg/kg p.o., but sertraline (range 1-10 mg/kg p.o.), fluvoxamine and fluoxetine (both in a range of 3-30 mg/kg p.o.) were ineffective. In the last experiment the effects of paroxetine (0-10 mg/kg p.o.), fluvoxamine and fluoxetine (both 0-30 mg/kg p.o.) were studied during an exhaustion design in sexually experienced male rats. As rats get more 'sluggish' when they have had multiple ejaculations, we hoped to see stronger inhibitory effects in the last cycle prior to exhaustion. None of the drugs dose-dependently inhibited the pattern of sexual behaviour during the first sexual cycle. In the last cycle the patterning of sexual behaviour differed, but only paroxetine (10 mg/kg p.o.) inhibited sexual behaviour significantly. The total number' of ejaculations during the test was not reduced by any of the SSRIs tested. Contrary to human findings, we did not find major inhibitory effects of SSRIs on male rat sexual behaviour at non-sedative doses. The only differentiation that could be made is that paroxetine and sertraline had slightly stronger effects than the other 5-HT reuptake inhibitors. Masculine sexual behaviour in rats does not constitute a suitable model to investigate the differential mechanism of sexual inhibition of SSRIs that have been described in human males.