|Rhynchophylline (RP) is a major tetracyclic oxindole alkaloid of Uncariae Ramulus et Uncus which has been used to treat hypertension, seizures, pain and anxiety in the oriental countries. A recent report revealed that RP attenuated ischemia-induced neuronal damage and kainite-induced convulsions in animals. This study was performed to investigate whether RP enhances pentobarbital-induced sleep behaviors and modulates sleep architecture in mice. Locomotor activity was significantly inhibited by RP at 0.25 and 0.5 mg/kg, similar to 2 mg/kg diazepam (a benzodiazepine agonist) in mice. RP shortened sleep latency and increased total sleep time in a dose-dependent manner when administrated with pentobarbital (42 mg/kg, i.p.). RP also increased the number of sleeping mice and total sleep time by concomitant administration with the sub-hypnotic dosage of pentobarbital (28mg/kg, i.p.). On the other hand, RP (0.25mg/kg, p.o.) itself significantly inhibited sleep-wake cycles, prolonged total sleep time, and rapid eye movement in rats. In addition, RP also increased chloride influx in the primary cultured hypothalamic neuronal cells. In addition, we found that glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD65/67) was activated by RP. In conclusion, RP augments pentobarbital-induced sleeping behaviors, and can be a candidate for treating insomnia.