Abstract The effects of an antagonist at the strychnine insensitive glycine site (5,7-dichlorokynurenic acid, i.c.v.), and of noncompetitive (MK-801, i.p.) and competitive (CGP 37849, i.p.; CGP 39551, i.p.; AP-7, i.c.v.) NMDA antagonists were compared with diazepam (i.p.) in two animal models of anxiety (the open field exploratory behavior of non-habituated rats, and the Vogel conflict test). All drugs when applied in appropriate doses increased punished drinking in the Vogel test, without producing any significant changes in free drinking and the stimulus threshold at their lowest anticonflict doses. The effective doses were as follows: diazepam 1.5 and 2.5 mg/kg; MK-801 0.005 and 0.01 mg/kg; CGP 39551 5.0 and 20.0 mg/kg; CGP 37849 1.0 and 2.5 mg/kg; 5,7-dichlorokynurenic acid 5.0 μg (i.c.v); AP-7 0.5 μg (i.c.v.). In the open field diazepam (0.05 mg/kg), MK-801 (0.1 mg/kg), CGP 37849 (0.01, 0.1, 1.0 mg/kg), and AP-7 2.5 μg (i.c.v.) significantly increased exploratory activity in the central sectors of the open field (anti-neophobic reaction), without changing motor activity of the rat. MK-801 at the highest tested dose of 0.2 mg/kg significantly stimulated animal locomotor activity. CGP 37849 in the largest dose examined (10 mg/kg) significantly depressed the motor behavior of rats. Overall, it appeared that different NMDA antagonists showed an anxiolytic-like profile, similar to that of the benzodiazepine diazepam. Among different NMDA receptor complex antagonists studied, CGP 37849 was characterized by the largest distinction between the doses showing an anxiolytic-like action in the open field test, and changing rat motor behavior.