Chloroform, a heavy, colorless liquid with a sweet, burning taste, gives off potent ethereal fumes at room temperature. Chloroform was discovered simultaneously in Germany, France, and the United States in 1831. Recreational use of the drug began soon after and enjoyed a brief period of popularity. Both liquid and vapor forms were first thought to be "safe" alcohol substitutes since small quantities produced intoxication and euphoria without morning-after hangover.

In 1847, chloroform was used for the first time as an anesthetic for childbirth and surgery. As a general anesthetic, it acts faster, and eight times more powerfully, then ether. However, the overdose hazard, related to sudden death from circulatory depression, as well as the growth in popularity of other anesthetics eventually caused chloroform- to fall into medical disfavor.

Because of its strength, chloroform can be highly dangerous in amateur hands. For some, large quantities, when ingested orally, can be lethal.

Use of chloroform as a recreational intoxicant is rare today.