The 1,5-benzodiazepine clobazam is indicated for the adjunctive treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome in patients 2 years of age or older in the United States, and for treatment of anxiety and various forms of epilepsy elsewhere. Clobazam has been reported to exhibit different in vivo adverse effects and addiction liability profile than the classic 1,4-benzodiazepines. In this study, it was investigated whether the in vitro pharmacological properties of clobazam and its major active metabolite N-desmethylclobazam could explain some of these clinical differences. The functional properties of the two 1,5-benzodiazepines were characterized at the human γ-aminobutyric acid type A receptor (GABA(A)R) subtypes α1β2γ(2S), α2β2γ(2S), α3β2γ(2S), α5β2γ(2S) and α6β2δ expressed in Xenopus laevis oocytes by use of two-electrode voltage-clamp electrophysiology and compared to those exhibited by the 1,4-benzodiazepine clonazepam. All three compounds potentiated GABA EC20-evoked responses through the α(1,2,3,5)β2γ(2S) GABA(A)Rs in a reversible and concentration-dependent manner, with each displaying similar EC50 values at the four subtypes. Furthermore, the degrees of potentiation of the GABA EC20 currents through the four receptors mediated by saturating modulator concentrations did not differ substantially for any of the three benzodiazepines. The three compounds were substantially less potent (200-3900 fold) as positive allosteric modulators at the α6β2δ GABA(A)R than at the α(1,2,3,5)β2γ(2S) receptors. Interestingly, however, clobazam and especially N-desmethylclobazam were highly efficacious potentiators of α6β2δ receptor signaling. Although this activity component is unlikely to contribute to the in vivo effects of clobazam/N-desmethylclobazam, the 1,5-benzodiazepine could constitute an interesting lead for novel modulators targeting this low-affinity binding site in GABAARs. In conclusion, the non-selective modulation exerted by clobazam, N-desmethylclobazam and clonazepam at the α1β2γ(2S), α2β2γ(2S), α3β2γ(2S) and α5β2γ(2S) GABA(A)Rs indicate that the observed clinical differences between clobazam and 1,4-benzodiazepines are likely to arise from factors other than their respective pharmacological properties at the GABA(A)Rs as investigated here.