Motor activity and neuromotor function were examined in adult CD rats exposed to either carbaryl or propoxur, and behavioral effects were compared with the time course of cholinesterase inhibition. Rats received an IP injection of either 0, 2, 4, 6 or 8 mg/kg propoxur or 0, 4, 8, 16 or 28 mg/kg carbaryl in corn oil 20 min before testing. All doses of propoxur reduced 2 hr activity in a figure-eight maze, and crossovers and rears in an open field. For carbaryl, dosages of 8, 16 and 28 mg/kg decreased maze activity whereas 16 and 28 mg/kg reduced open field activity. In order to determine the time course of effects, rats received a single IP injection of either corn oil, 2 mg/kg propoxur or 16 mg/kg carbaryl, and were tested for 5 min in a figure-eight maze either 15, 30, 60, 120 or 240 min post-injection. Immediately after testing, animals were sacrificed and total cholinesterase was measured. Maximum effects of propoxur and carbaryl on blood and brain cholinesterase and motor activity were seen within 15 min. Maze activity had returned to control levels within 30 and 60 min whereas chlorinesterase levels remained depressed for 120 and 240 min for propoxur and carbaryl, respectively. These results indicate that both carbamates decrease motor activity, but behavioral recovery occurs prior to that of cholinesterase following acute exposure.