1. To investigate peripherally mediated antinociceptive effects of opioids, the activity of a novel polar enkephalin analogue H-Tyr-D-Arg-Gly-Phe (4-NO2)-Pro-NH2 (BW443C) has been compared with those of classical tertiary opiates against different nociceptive stimuli in the mouse. 2. In chemically-induced writhing models BW443C, administered subcutaneously, demonstrated dose-related antinociceptive effects less potent than morphine and of a similar order to pethidine and D-propoxyphene. In assays using heat as the noxious stimulus BW443C was markedly less potent than any of the opiates tested. 3. In heat-induced assays, but not in chemically-induced writhing assays, BW443C demonstrated a 'U'-shaped dose-time response relationship. Morphine, pethidine and D-propoxyphene showed simple, approximately linear, dose-time effects in all assays. 4. When given subcutaneously, the inhibitory effects of BW443C and morphine in chemically-induced writhing were antagonized by naloxone given intraperitoneally. The inhibitory effects on writhing of BW443C, but not those of morphine, were also antagonized by prior intraperitoneal administration of the quaternary opioid antagonist N-methyl nalorphine. When this antagonist was administered intracerebroventricularly, the antinociceptive effects in writhing of both BW443C and morphine were antagonized. 5. It is concluded that BW443C, being only poorly able to cross the blood brain barrier, demonstrates peripherally mediated opioid antinociceptive effects in chemically-induced writhing models. In heat-induced models, that detect centrally acting opioids, BW443C is effective only at high doses and at time intervals after dosing sufficient to allow slow penetration of drug into the CNS. It is suggested that the peripheral antinociceptive actions of BW443C are mediated by inhibition of sensory neurones.