BACKGROUND:: Orexin neurons regulate the sleep/wake cycle and are proposed to influence general anesthesia. In animal experiments, orexin neurons have been shown to drive emergence from general anesthesia. In human studies, however, the role of orexin neurons remains controversial, owing at least, in part, to the fact that orexin neurons are multifunctional. Orexin neurons regulate not only the sleep/wake cycle, but also body temperature. We hypothesized that orexin neurons do not directly regulate emergence from anesthesia, but instead affect emergence indirectly through thermoregulation because anesthesia-induced hypothermia can greatly influence emergence time. To test our hypothesis, we used simultaneous measurement of body temperature and locomotor activity. METHODS:: We used male orexin neuron-ablated (ORX-AB) mice and their corresponding wild-type (WT) littermates to investigate the role of orexin neurons in emergence. Body temperature was recorded using an intraperitoneally implanted telemetric probe, and locomotor activity was measured using an infrared motion sensor. Induction of anesthesia and emergence from anesthesia were defined behaviorally as loss and return, respectively, of body movement. Mice received general anesthesia with 1.5% isoflurane in 100% oxygen for 30 minutes under 3 conditions. In the first experiment, the anesthesia chamber was warmed (32 C), ensuring a constant body temperature of animals during anesthesia. In the second experiment, the anesthesia chamber was maintained at room temperature (25 C), allowing body temperature to fluctuate. In the third experiment in WT mice, the anesthesia chamber was cooled (23 C) so that their body temperature would decrease to the comparable value to that obtained in the ORX-AB mice during room temperature condition. RESULTS:: In the warmed condition, there were no significant differences between the ORX-AB and control mice with respect to body temperature, locomotor activity, induction time, or emergence time. In the room temperature condition, however, anesthesia-induced hypothermia was greater and longer lasting in ORX-AB mice than that in WT mice. Emergence time in ORX-AB mice was significantly prolonged from the warmed condition (14.2 ± 0.8 vs 6.0 ± 1.1 minutes) whereas that in WT mice was not different (7.4 ± 0.8 vs 4.9 ± 0.2 minutes). When body temperature was decreased by cooling in WT mice, emergence time was prolonged to 12.4 ± 1.3 minutes. Induction time did not differ among temperature conditions or genotypes. CONCLUSIONS:: The effect of orexin deficiency to impair thermoregulation during general anesthesia is of sufficient magnitude that body temperature must be appropriately controlled when studying the role of orexin neurons in emergence from anesthesia.