The effects of the 5-HT1A receptor blocker pindolol and the 5-HT releasing and uptake blocking agent d-fenfluramine, both used as indirect serotonin agonists, on flumazenil-induced acute anxiety reactions were studied in panic disorder patients to test the hypothesis that serotonin (5-HT) inhibits neural systems mediating panic attacks. Thirty never treated or drug free PD patients (16 females) aged 22-49 y (mean ± SD, 32.9 ± 8) received single doses of d-fenfluramine (n = 10; 30 mg, p.o.), pindolol (n = 10; 5 mg, p.o.), or placebo (n = 10) 90 and 45 min before a challenge test with flumazenil (1.5 mg, i.v., in 10 min), under double-blind conditions. Panic attacks occurred in 5 control subjects (placebo-flumazenil group), 5 subjects in the pindolol group and in 7 in the d-fenluramine pre-treated patients. Patients experiencing anxiety attacks following flumazenil reported higher increases in anxiety scores. Respiratory rate increases were not different between patients experiencing or not a panic attack. Despite sample size limitation, this study suggests that flumazenil induced anxiety reaction is not a good pharmacological model of panic attacks, considering the absence of serotonergic modulation of its effects.