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Sudden darkness is a non-invasive behavioural analysis tool which increases motor activity and decreases anxiety in rats. It has been shown in previous studies that in rats, dark test conditions can also modify behavioural responses to drugs acting on the dopaminergic system. The increasing use of transgenic mice in behavioural research has raised interest in developing new tests for phenotyping mice. Hence, the aim of the present study was to adapt the sudden darkness paradigm for mice. In the first part of this study, effects of sudden darkness on the performance of mice in the elevated plus maze test were evaluated. Both genders of two mouse strains (Swiss and Balb/c) were tested either in high light intensity conditions or were exposed to sudden darkness. In the second part, responses to the 5-HT(1A) receptor agonist 8-OH-DPAT (0.5 and 1.0 mg/kg) and 5-HT(2C) receptor agonist mCPP (1.0 and 2.0 mg/kg) were investigated in male Swiss mice. Sudden darkness induced a clear anxiolytic effect in male and female Swiss mice. In Balb/c mice, anxiety-related behaviour was only decreased in females, whereas in males the anxiety state remained unchanged. An increase in motor activity was only observed in male Swiss mice; in the other groups, sudden darkness did not affect locomotion. Depending on the light conditions used, the behavioural response to receptor agonists was more evident: 8-OH-DPAT (1.0 mg/kg) only significantly decreased the anxiety state when mice were tested under high levels of illumination, whereas the anxiogenic effect of mCPP (1.0 and 2.0 mg/kg) was only evident in the dark. This study suggests that the sudden darkness paradigm is also a useful tool for the analysis of mice and can be used to modulate the anxiety level without administering drugs. Depending on the mouse strain tested, the same effects on anxiety and motor activity were observed as have been shown for rats.