The effects of LP-44, a selective 5-HT7 receptor agonist, and of SB-269970, a selective 5-HT7 receptor antagonist, on spontaneous sleep were studied in adult rats implanted for chronic sleep recordings. The 5-HT7 receptor ligands were microinjected directly into the dorsal raphe nucleus (DRN) during the light period of the 12-h light/12-h dark cycle. Infusion of LP-44 (1.25-5.0 mM) into the DRN induced a significant reduction of rapid-eye-movement sleep (REMS) and of the number of REM periods. Similar effects were observed after the direct administration into the DRN of SB-269970 (0.5-1.0 mM). Pretreatment with a dose of SB-269970 (0.5 mM) that significantly affects sleep variables antagonized the LP-44 (2.5 mM)-induced suppression of REMS and of the number of REM periods. It is proposed that the suppression of REMS after microinjection of LP-44 into the DRN is related, at least in part, to the activation of GABAergic neurons in the DRN that contribute to long projections that reach, among others, the laterodorsal and pedunculopontine tegmental nuclei involved in the promotion of REMS.