Oleamide is a sleep-inducing lipid originally isolated from the cerebrospinal fluid of sleep-deprived cats. Oleamide was found to potently and selectively inactivate gap junction-mediated communication between rat glial cells. In contrast, oleamide had no effect on mechanically stimulated calcium wave transmission in this same cell type. Other chemical compounds traditionally used as inhibitors of gap junctional communication, like heptanol and 18beta-glycyrrhetinic acid, blocked not only gap junctional communication but also intercellular calcium signaling. Given the central role for intercellular small molecule and electrical signaling in central nervous system function, oleamide- induced inactivation of glial cell gap junction channels may serve to regulate communication between brain cells, and in doing so, may influence higher order neuronal events like sleep induction.