Background and purpose:Tetrahydro-N, N-dimethyl-5, 5-diphenyl-3-furanmethanamine hydrochloride (ANAVEX1-41) is a potent muscarinic and sigma(1) (sigma (1)) receptor ligand. The sigma (1) receptor modulates glutamatergic and cholinergic responses in the forebrain and selective agonists are potent anti-amnesic and antidepressant drugs. We have here analysed the sigma (1) component in the behavioural effects of ANAVEX1-41.Experimental approach:Binding of ANAVEX1-41 to muscarinic and sigma (1) receptors were measured using cell membranes. Behavioural effects of ANAVEX1-41 were tested in mice using memory (spontaneous alternation, passive avoidance, water-maze) and antidepressant-like activity (forced swimming) procedures.Key results:In vitro, ANAVEX1-41 was a potent muscarinic (M(1)>M(3), M(4)>M(2) with K(i) ranging from 18 to 114 nM) and selective sigma (1) ligand (sigma (1), K(i)=44 nM; sigma (2), K(i)=4 muM). In mice, ANAVEX1-41 failed to affect learning when injected alone (0.03-1 mg kg(-1)), but attenuated scopolamine-induced amnesia with a bell-shaped dose response (maximum at 0.1 mg kg(-1)). The sigma (1) antagonist BD1047 blocked the anti-amnesic effect of ANAVEX1-41 on both short- and long-term memories. Pretreatment with a sigma (1) receptor-directed antisense oligodeoxynucleotide prevented effects of ANAVEX1-41 only in the passive avoidance procedure, measuring long-term memory. ANAVEX1-41 reduced behavioural despair at 30 and 60 mg kg(-1), without involving the sigma (1) receptor, as it was not blocked by BD1047 or the antisense oligodeoxynucleotide.Conclusions and implications:ANAVEX1-41 is a potent anti-amnesic drug, acting through muscarinic and sigma (1) receptors. The latter component may be involved in the enhancing effects of the drug on long-term memory processes.