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Phencyclidine structure.svg
Clinical data
AHFS/ phencyclidine
Routes of
Injection, insufflation, smoking, oral
ATC code none
Legal status
Legal status
Pharmacokinetic data
Onset of action 2 to 60 min
Biological half-life 7–46 hours
Duration of action 6 to 48 hours
CAS Number 77-10-1 YesY
PubChem (CID) 6468
DrugBank DB03575 YesY
ChemSpider 6224 YesY
KEGG C07575 YesY
ECHA InfoCard 100.150.427
Chemical and physical data
Formula C17H25N
Molar mass 243.387 g/mol
3D model (Jmol) Interactive image
See also: data page
 NYesY (what is this?)  

Phencyclidine (PCP), also known as angel dust and Sernyl among others, is a dissociative drug. PCP was brought to market in the 1950s as an anesthetic pharmaceutical drug but was taken off the market in 1965 due to the high prevalence of dissociative hallucinogenic side effects. Moreover, the discovery of ketamine by Parke-Davis researchers was thought to represent a better-tolerated alternative for use as an anesthetic medication. Since this time a number of synthetic derivatives of PCP have been sold as dissociative drugs for recreational and non-medical use.

In chemical structure, PCP is a member of the arylcyclohexylamine class, and, in pharmacology, it is a member of the family of dissociative anesthetics. PCP works primarily as an NMDA receptor antagonist, where it blocks the activity of the NMDA receptor. As an addictive drug, PCP is associated with compulsive abuse.

As a recreational drug, PCP may be ingested orally, smoked, insufflated or injected.

PCP began to emerge as a recreational drug in major cities in the United States in 1967. In 1978, People magazine and Mike Wallace of 60 Minutes called PCP the country's "number one" drug problem. Although recreational use of the drug had always been relatively low, it began declining significantly in the 1980s. In surveys, the number of high school students admitting to trying PCP at least once fell from 13% in 1979 to less than 3% in 1990.

  • PCP can be ingested through smoking. Fry is a street term for marijuana or tobacco cigarettes that are dipped in PCP and then dried.
  • PCP hydrochloride can be insufflated, depending upon the purity.
  • The free base is quite hydrophobic and may be absorbed through skin and mucus membranes (often inadvertently).


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