Captive gray wolves (Canis lupus) were immobilized (loss of consciousness) with 2.0 mg/kg xylazine hydrochloride (XYL) and 0.4 mg/kg butorphanol tartrate (BUT) administered intramuscularly. Induction time was 11.8 +/- 0.8 min (mean +/- SE). Immobilization resulted in bradycardia, respiratory depression, and normotension. Fifteen min after induction, six wolves were given either 0.05 mg/kg naloxone hydrochloride (NAL) and 0.125 or 0.250 mg/kg yohimbine hydrochloride (YOH), or an equal volume of saline (control) intravenously. Antagonism resulted in shortened recovery times compared to control animals (P less than 0.03); there was no difference in recovery times between the YOH doses (P greater than 0.05). Antagonism caused increases in heart rate (HR) and respiratory rate (RR), but no changes in MABP. Eight other wolves were similarly immobilized, but given only NAL. This resulted in partial antagonism with the animals appearing to be sedated with XYL only. Three wolves given only 0.4 mg/kg BUT assumed a state described as "apathetic sedation." Three other wolves sedated with only 2.0 mg/kg XYL showed a profound sedation characterized by recumbency, bradycardia and shallow, but regular, respiration. This study demonstrated that (1) BUT and XYL together, but not separately, can completely immobilize wolves, (2) this combination can be rapidly antagonized by NAL and YOH, and (3) there appeared to be no adverse cardiopulmonary reactions to any of the drugs used.