1. Patch-clamp recordings were made from rat ventromedial hypothalamic neurones in slices of brain tissue in vitro. In cell-attached recordings, removal of extracellular glucose or metabolic inhibition with sodium azide reduced the firing rate of a subpopulation of cells through the activation of a 65 pS channel that was blocked by the sulphonylureas tolbutamide and glibenclamide. 2. In whole-cell patch-clamp recordings, in the absence of ATP in the electrode solution, glucose-receptive neurones gradually hyperpolarized due to the induction of an outward current at -60 mV. This outward current and the resultant hyperpolarization were blocked by the sulphonylureas tolbutamide and glibenclamide. 3. In recordings where the electrode solution contained 4 mM ATP, this outward current was not observed. Under these conditions, 500 microM diazoxide was found to induce an outward current that was blocked by tolbutamide. 4. In cell-attached recordings diazoxide and the active fragment of leptin (leptin 22-56) reduced the firing rate of glucose-receptive neurones by the activation of a channel with similar properties to that induced by removal of extracellular glucose. 5. Reverse transcription followed by the polymerase chain reaction using cytoplasm from single glucose-receptive neurones demonstrated the expression of the ATP-sensitive potassium (KATP) channel subunits Kir6.1 and SUR1 but not Kir6.2 or SUR2. 6. It is concluded that glucose-receptive neurones within the rat ventromedial hypothalamus exhibit a KATP channel current with pharmacological and molecular properties similar to those reported in other tissues.