Intracellular recordings were made in vitro from neurons in the myenteric plexus of freshly dissected preparations of the duodenum of the rat. Nearly one-quarter of neurons (18 out of 77) had long after-hyperpolarizations following their action potentials. Over 60% of neurons (20 out of 32) which were tested exhaustively by focal stimulation at seven points around the recording site were seen to receive fast excitatory synaptic inputs. These were of very short duration (10-30 ms) and were reversibly blocked by the nicotinic antagonist hexamethonium. Only four out of 18 after-hyperpolarization cells (22%) had visible fast synaptic inputs. Seven out of 32 neurons tested received slow excitatory synaptic inputs lasting up to 60 s that were associated with a decrease in conductance and an increase in excitability. No evidence for muscarinic synaptic potentials was seen; only four cells out of 30 with fast excitatory postsynaptic potentials had slow excitatory synaptic potentials visible after a single-shot stimulus; in none of these were the slow excitatory postsynaptic potentials blocked by atropine (up to 1 × 10-5 M). No inhibitory postsynaptic potentials were recorded in any of the 77 neurons recorded in this study. The effects of five neurotransmitter candidates (acetylcholine, GABA noradrenaline, 5-hydroxytryptamine and substance P) applied by pressure microejection were studied. It is concluded that most of the neurophysiological features reported in the extensively studied guinea-pig small bowel myenteric plexus are present in the rat duodenum. However, the apparent lack of muscarinic synaptic potentials and inhibitory synaptic potentials suggests that there may be some differences between the two species. Our recordings also differ slightly from recently reported studies of rat myenteric neurons grown in cell culture.