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Inhalational anesthetics produce dose-dependent effects on electroencephalogram-derived parameters, such as 95% spectral edge frequency (SEF) and bispectral index (BIS). The authors analyzed the relationship between end-tidal sevoflurane and isoflurane concentrations (FET) and BIS and SEF and determined the speed of onset and offset of effect (t1/2 ke0).Twenty-four patients with American Society of Anesthesiologists physical status I or II were randomly assigned to receive anesthesia with sevoflurane or isoflurane. Several transitions between 0.5 and 1.5 minimum alveolar concentration were performed. BIS and SEF data were analyzed with a combination of an effect compartment and an inhibitory sigmoid Emax model, characterized by t1/2 ke0, the concentration at which 50% depression of the electroencephalogram parameters occurred (IC50), and shape parameters. Parameter values estimated are mean +/- SD.The model adequately described the FET-BIS relationship. Values for t1/2 ke0, derived from the BIS data, were 3.5 +/- 2.0 and 3.2 +/- 0.7 min for sevoflurane and isoflurane, respectively (NS). Equivalent values derived from SEF were 3.1 +/- 2.4 min (sevoflurane) and 2.3 +/- 1.2 min (isoflurane; NS). Values of t1/2 ke0 derived from the SEF were smaller than those from BIS (P < 0.05). IC50 values derived from the BIS were 1.14 +/- 0.31% (sevoflurane) and 0.60 +/- 0.11% (isoflurane; P < 0.05).The speed of onset and offset of anesthetic effect did not differ between isoflurane and sevoflurane; isoflurane was approximately twice as potent as sevoflurane. The greater values of t1/2 ke0 derived from the BIS data compared with those derived from the SEF data may be related to computational and physiologic delays.