Abstract Several studies were conducted to evaluate the suitability of handling-induced seizures of the Mongolian gerbil for pharmacological screening purposes. Seizure behavior remained consistent during repeated daytime testing at weekly intervals. When tested at night, seizure magnitude and frequency increased significantly from daytime scores and animals maintained the higher baseline with repeated nocturnal testing. Drug testing of seizure sensitive gerbils revealed that 4 of the 5 vehicles, including water, significantly inhibited seizure activity; only saline had no effect. Four prototypical anticonvulsant drugs reduced seizure activity: diphenylhydantoin (150 mg/kg), pentobarbital (20–40 mg/kg), phenobarbital 10–80 mg/kg) and ethosuximide (500 mg/kg). Trimethadione was ineffective while diazepam and carbamazepine could not be evaluated. Two drugs with dopaminergic activity, amphetamine (4 mg/kg) and apomorphine (16 mg/kg), reduced seizure severity; apomorphine also reduced seizure frequency. The dopaminergic antagonist, haloperidol, (1 mg/kg) exacerbated seizure severity from control levels while alpha-methyl- para-tyrosine had no significant effect. The results indicate that complex interactions between non-specific behavioral and pharmacological factors may limit the reliability of this model.