Several studies have suggested that arginine vasopressin (AVP) may act centrally as a neurohormone or neuromodulator to produce electrophysiological and behavioral effects. However, there are few reports of EEG effects of AVP in unanesthetized, behaving animals. In the present study the EEG effects of "behaviorally relevant" subcutaneous (SC) doses of AVP (6 micrograms/kg) known to raise blood pressure were compared to "behaviorally relevant" intracerebroventricular (ICV) doses (0.1-1.0 ng) and multiple "toxic" ICV doses (1.0 microgram) of AVP. Central injections of toxic doses of AVP produced behavioral arrest, bodily barrel rolling, and EEG slowing, but did not induce electrographic signs of seizure activity. Comparison of the spectral characteristics of the EEG revealed some similarities in the distribution of power between SC and the 1.0 ng ICV dose; whereas ICV doses of 0.1 and 0.5 ng produced power distributions that were different from those seen following saline or SC doses of AVP. The similarities in EEG activity between SC injections and the 1.0 ng ICV dose suggest a common brain state may be induced by the two routes of administration in those dose ranges.