In this study, heart and respiratory rates, cloacal temperature, and quality of sedation were evaluated before (0 min) and after (10, 20, and 30 min) i.m. administration of xylazine (10 mg/kg; n = 7), medetomidine (75 μl; n = 6), detomidine (0.3 mg/kg; n = 6), or diazepam (6 mg/kg; n = 7) in rock partridges (Alectoris graeca). All partridges recovered from sedation without any disturbance. Xylazine and diazepam administration did not induce significant changes in heart rate, which did decrease significantly after medetomidine and detomidine administration (P < 0.001). Mean respiratory rate was decreased dramatically at 20 and 30 min after xylazine (P < 0.001) and medetomidine (P < 0.005) administration, and at all stages of sedation after detomidine injection (P < 0.001), whereas there was not any significant change after diazepam injection. In all groups, cloacal temperature measured at 10, 20, and 30 min tended to decrease compared with baseline values. Sedative effects of the drugs started within 2.1 ± 0.2 min for detomidine, 2.6 ± 0.4 min for diazepam, 3.1 ± 0.4 min for xylazine, and 4.8 ± 0.8 min for medetomidine application. There was an extreme variability in time to recovery for each drug: 205 ± 22.2 min for xylazine, 95 ± 12.2 min for medetomidine, 260 ± 17.6 min for detomidine, and 149 ± 8.3 min for diazepam. In conclusion, xylazine, medetomidine, detomidine, and diazepam produced sedation, which could permit some clinical procedures such as handling and radiographic examination of partridges to occur. Of the four drugs, xylazine produced stronger and more efficient sedation compared to the others, which could permit only minor procedures to be performed. However, depending on the drug used, monitoring of heart and respiratory rates and cloacal temperature might be required. Copyright 2006 by American Association of Zoo Veterinarians.