Barbiturate coma is initiated in brain-injured patients whenever elevated intracranial pressure remains unresponsive to other therapeutical strategies. However, barbiturates alter cortical activity resulting in difficulties in clinical evaluation. Therefore, we investigated the impact of long-term thiopental administration on responsiveness to exteroceptive stimuli in relation to pharmacokinetics of thiopental in CSF and serum. Long-term infusion increases thiopental levels which remain elevated for 6 and 9 days in CSF and serum, respectively, after termination of its administration. Prolonged unresponsiveness to exteroceptive stimuli correlates with persisting thiopental in CSF and serum. Thus, quantitative analysis of thiopental in serum becomes indispensable in predicting the length of drug-induced neurological impairment and in avoiding misinterpretation of the neurological status.