The effect of melatonin (5 mg, p.o.) on electroencephalographic (EEG) activity during sleep was investigated in eight men in a placebo-controlled cross-over design. Melatonin was administered immediately prior to a 4-h daytime sleep episode (13-17 h) after a partial sleep deprivation. The non-REM sleep stages and REM sleep duration were not significantly affected. Melatonin enhanced EEG power density in non-REM sleep in the 13.75-14.0 Hz bin (i.e., within the frequency range of sleep spindles), and reduced activity in the 15.25-16.5 Hz band. In the first 2 h spectral values within the 2.25-5.0 Hz range were reduced. These changes in the EEG are to some extent similar to those induced by benzodiazepine hypnotics and to the contribution of the endogenous circadian pacemaker to the spectral composition of the sleep EEG when sleep occurs at night.