Pyramidal neurons of layer V in rat prefrontal cortex display a prominent fast afterdepolarization (fADP) and a muscarinic-induced slow afterdepolarization (sADP). We have shown previously that both of these ADPs are produced by the activation of calcium-dependent non-selective cation currents. In the present report we examine whether they represent two distinct currents. In most pyramidal neurons recorded with caesium gluconate-based intracellular solution, a calcium spike is followed by a fast decaying inward aftercurrent (IfADP). The decay of IfADP is monoexponential with a time constant (t) of approximately 35 ms. Administration of carbachol (10-30 microm) increases the time constant of this decay by approximately 80% and induces the appearance of a much slower inward aftercurrent (IsADP). IfADP recorded in control conditions and in the presence of carbachol increases linearly with membrane hyperpolarization. In contrast, the carbachol-induced IsADP decreases with membrane hyperpolarization. When the sodium driving force across the cell membrane was reduced, IfADP was found to reverse at around -40 mV whereas IsADP remain inward over the same voltage range tested. Finally, bath administration of flufenamic acid (100 microm-1 mm) selectively blocks the carbachol-induced IsADP without a significant effect on the amplitude of IfADP. These differences in the electrical and pharmacological properties of IfADP and IsADP suggest that they were mediated by two distinct non-selective cation currents.