The heart of the toad Bufo marinus contained a substance with somatostatin-like immunoreactivity which eluted with somatostatin on reverse phase high pressure liquid chromatography. Immunoreactivity to somatostatin was localised histochemically to nerve fibres in muscle bundles of the sinus venosus, atria and ventricles and to nerve cell bodies in the sinus venosus and inter-atrial septum. Nerve cell bodies were localised both by interference contrast microscopy and immunohistochemistry; all detectable intracardiac neurons were immunoreactive. Synthetic somatostatin inhibited the rate and force of beat of atrial preparations, but did not affect the driven ventricle. Vagal stimulation caused inhibition of all cardiac chambers. After muscarinic blockade with hyoscine, vagal stimulation with 3 Hz or more still caused inhibition of the pacemaker and atrium, but not of the ventricle. The hyoscine-resistant vagal effects were diminished by about 60% after induction of tachyphylaxis to somatostatin. When the vagus nerves were stimulated intermittently for 1 h at 10 Hz, in the presence or absence of hyoscine, the effect of somatostatin was reduced by about 60%. It is concluded that the cholinergic postganglionic neurons of the cardiac vagus contain somatostatin. When the vagus is stimulated at 3 Hz or more, the neurons release sufficient somatostatin to inhibit the pacemaker and atrial muscle.