Previous studies suggested that differences between the behavioral effects of cocaine and analogs of benztropine were related to the relatively slow onset of action of the latter compounds. Several N-substituted benztropine analogs with a relatively fast onset of effects were studied to assess whether a fast onset of effects would render the effects more similar to those of cocaine. Only one of the compounds increased locomotor activity, and the increases were modest compared with those of 10 to 20 mg/kg cocaine. In rats trained to discriminate 10 mg/kg cocaine from saline none of the compounds produced more than 40% cocaine-like responds up to 2 h after injection. None of the compounds produced place-conditioning when examined up to 90 min after injection, indicating minimal abuse liability. The compounds had 5.6 to 30 nM affinities at the dopamine transporter (DAT), with uniformly lower affinities at norepinephrine and serotonin transporters (from 490-4600 and 1420-7350 nM, respectively). Affinities at muscarinic M(1) receptors were from 100- to 300-fold lower than DAT affinities, suggesting minimal contribution of those sites to the behavioral effects of the compounds. Affinities at histaminic H(1) sites were from 11- to 43-fold lower than those for the DAT. The compounds also had affinity for sigma, 5-hydroxytryptamine(1) (5-HT(1)), and 5-HT(2) receptors that may have contributed to their behavioral effects. Together, the results indicate that a slow onset of action is not a necessary condition for reduced cocaine-like effects of atypical DAT ligands and suggest several mechanisms that may contribute to the reduced cocaine-like efficacy of these compounds.