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The novel atypical antipsychotic ziprasidone has a pharmacologic profile notable for potent agonism of serotonin (5-HT)1A receptors, antagonism at 5-HT1D receptors, and reuptake inhibition of norepinephrine. 5-HT1A receptor agonism, in particular, suggests anxiolytic activity, and ziprasidone has shown preliminary efficacy in treating the symptoms of anxiety associated with psychotic disorders. In this study, the anxiolytic efficacy of ziprasidone was evaluated in nonpsychotic subjects who were anxious before undergoing minor dental surgery. We compared a single oral dose of 20 mg ziprasidone (N = 30) with that of 10 mg diazepam (N = 30) and placebo (N = 30) in a randomized, parallel-group, double-blind study. The peak anxiolytic effect of ziprasidone compared with that of placebo was similar to that of diazepam but had a later onset. At 3 hours postdose, the anxiolytic effect of ziprasidone was significantly greater than that of placebo (p < 0.05) and somewhat greater than that of diazepam. Diazepam showed a significantly greater anxiolytic effect than placebo at 1 hour (p < 0.05) but not at 3 hours. The sedative effect of ziprasidone was never greater than that of placebo, whereas that of diazepam was significantly greater than that of placebo 1 to 1.5 hours postdose. Ziprasidone was generally well tolerated. Only one patient reported treatment-related adverse events (nausea and vomiting) and, unlike diazepam, ziprasidone did not cause reductions in blood pressure. Dystonia, extrapyramidal syndrome, akathisia, and postural hypotension were not seen with ziprasidone. Thus, ziprasidone may possess anxiolytic effects in addition to its antipsychotic properties.