Olfactory bulbectomy (OB) is associated with a variety of behavioral abnormalities such as hyperactivity in the "open-field" test. Previous studies have shown that chronic administration of antidepressants can reverse this behavioral deficit. The activity of milnacip ran (20, 30, and 40 mg/kg, PO bid) administered in two equally divided doses twice daily was assessed in the olfactory bulbectomized rat model of depression. It was found that chronic treatment with milnacipran at the doses of 30 and 40 mg/kg, but not 20 mg/kg, attenuated the lesion-induced hyperactivity of the OB rat in the "open-field" test following 14 days of treatment. In the step-through passive avoidance test, administration of milnacipran at doses of 20, 30, and 40 mg/kg had no effect on the performance deficit associated with olfactory bulbectomy. Olfactory bulbectomy reduced the concentration of noradrenaline (NA) in the frontal cortex. However, chronic milnacipran treatment did not significantly alter this deficit. It is concluded that milnacipran, when administered chronically at doses of 30 and 40 mg/kg, are effective at reversing the "open-field" deficit associated with olfactory bulbectomy, and that a dose of 30 mg/kg is an optimal dose. (C) 1999 Elsevier Science Inc.