WSP (withdrawal seizure-prone) mice exhibit approximately 10-fold more severe withdrawal convulsions than WSR (withdrawal seizure-resistant) mice after identical chronic ethanol exposure. Although WSP and WSR mice do not differ in threshold for seizures elicited by electroconvulsive shock (ECS), WSR mice are more sensitive to ethanol-induced elevation of ECS seizure thresholds. The current experiments demonstrated that WSR mice showed more ECS-induced seizure threshold elevation than WSP mice when tested after the administration of C1-C5 straight-chain alcohols. Whereas the brain concentrations of the C1 and C2 alcohols did not differ between the lines, WSP mice tended to have higher brain concentrations than WSR mice of the C3-C5 alcohols, even though they exhibited the smaller behavioral response in all cases. Thus, the difference between WSP and WSR mice was one of neurosensitivity and could not be attributed to pharmacokinetic differences. The WSR line was also more sensitive to ethchlorvynol, methyprylon, barbital, phenobarbital, pentobarbital, diazepam, valproic acid and phenytoin in this test. Examining loss of righting reflex (RR), we found that WSP and WSR mice did not differ in ED50, latency to lose RR or duration of loss of RR. Thus, the genetic anticonvulsant sensitivity difference is not simply a genetic difference in sensitivity to central nervous system depression between the lines. In summary, WSR mice were more sensitive to the anticonvulsant effects of a variety of compounds than WSP mice, suggesting that some genes influence both ethanol withdrawal seizures and ethanol's anticonvulsant effects.