2-Phenylpyrazolo[4,3-c]quinolin-3(5H)-one (CGS 8216) is pharmacologically characterized as benzodiazepine antagonist with low inverse agonistic effects. Single oral doses up to 650 mg and subchronic doses up to 100 mg daily for seven days are well tolerated by young healthy volunteers. Plasma concentrations of CGS 8216 are variable, not dose-related and relatively low considering the doses administered. A high plasma concentration ratio of metabolite vs. parent compound (3:1) points to an extensive gastrointestinal first-pass metabolism. CGS 8216 influences the human electroencephalogram similar to anxiolytic and vigilance enhancing drugs in doses which do not change performance of psychometric tests. CGS 8216 antagonizes the diazepam-induced impairment of alertness.