Several novel antipsychotics activate serotonin 5-HT1A receptors as well as antagonising dopamine D2/3 receptors. Such a pharmacological profile is associated with a lowered liability to produce extrapyramidal side effects and enhanced efficacy in treating negative and cognitive symptoms of schizophrenia. However, 5-HT1A receptor agonists increase plasma corticosterone and many antipsychotics disturb the regulation of glucose. Here, we compared the influence on plasma glucose and corticosterone of acute treatments with 'new generation' antipsychotics which target dopamine D2/3 receptors and 5-HT1A receptors, with that of atypical antipsychotics, and with haloperidol. Olanzapine and clozapine, antipsychotics that are known to produce weight gain and diabetes in humans, both at 10 mg/kg p.o., substantially increased plasma glucose (from 0.8 to 1.7 g/l) at 1 h after administration, an effect that returned to control levels after 4 h. In comparison, F15063 (40 mg/kg p.o.) was without effect at any time point. Olanzapine and clozapine dose-dependently increased plasma glucose concentrations as did SLV313 and SSR181507. Haloperidol and risperidone had modest effects whereas aripiprazole, ziprasidone and bifeprunox, antipsychotics that are not associated with metabolic dysfunction in humans, and F15063 had little or no influence on plasma glucose. The same general pattern of response was found for plasma corticosterone levels. The present data provide the first comparative study of conventional, atypical and 'new generation' antipsychotics on glucose and corticosterone levels in rats. A variety of mechanisms likely underlie the hyperglycemia and corticosterone release observed with clozapine and olanzapine, whilst the balance of dopamine D2/3/5-HT1A interaction may contribute to the less favourable impact of SLV313 and SSR181507 compared with that of bifeprunox and F15063.