Temazepam is a 1,4-benzodiazepine, newly marketed in the United States for the symptomatic treatment of the complaint of insomnia. The manufacturer recommends a dose of 30 mg before bedtime for most adults and 15 mg for geriatric or debilitated patients. A dose of 30 mg usually produces peak plasma concentrations within 3 hours after oral ingestion and has a mean half-life of 10 to 15 hours. Thus, temazepam is absorbed more slowly and metabolized more quickly than flurazepam, the only other benzodiazepine marketed in the United States specifically for insomnia. Eight sleep laboratory and 21 clinical studies on temazepam indicate that temazepam reduces awakening during the night and increases sleep duration. However, there was no consistent evidence that temazepam reduces sleep latency--probably because temazepam, taken at bedtime, does not reach sufficiently high blood levels in time to affect sleep onset. One sleep laboratory study on 8 insomniac patients given 35 consecutive nightly doses of 30 mg found no evidence of tolerance or rebound insomnia. Studies on tolerance, metabolism and carry-over effects have shown that temazepam has no long-acting metabolites and does not affect waking function following use at bedtime. In patients for whom hypnotic medication is appropriate, temazepam should be an effective drug for reducing most symptoms of insomnia.