Dexamethasone-suppressed rats were randomized into an etomidate group, CPMM group, or control group. Rats in the etomidate and CPMM groups received 120-minute continuous infusions of etomidate or CPMM, respectively. Rats in the control group received neither hypnotic. In the first study, adrenocortical function during hypnotic infusion was assessed by administering adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) 90 minutes after the start of the hypnotic infusion and measuring plasma corticosterone concentrations at the end of the infusion 30 minutes later. In the second study, adrenocortical recovery following hypnotic infusion was assessed by administering ACTH every 30 minutes after infusion termination and measuring plasma corticosterone concentrations 30 minutes after each ACTH dose.During hypnotic infusion, ACTH-stimulated serum corticosterone concentrations were significantly lower in the CPMM and etomidate groups than in the control group (100 +/- 64 ng/ml and 33 +/- 32 ng/ml versus 615 +/- 265 ng/ml, respectively). After hypnotic infusion, ACTH-stimulated serum corticosterone concentrations recovered to control values within 30 minutes in the CPMM group but remained suppressed relative to those in the control group for more than 3 hours in the etomidate group.Both CPMM and etomidate suppress adrenocortical function during continuous infusion. However, recovery occurs significantly more rapidly following infusion of CPMM.