This paper introduces improved techniques for multichannel extracellular electrophysiological recordings of neurons distributed across a single layer of topographically mapped cortex. We describe the electrode array, the surgical implant techniques, and the procedures for data collection and analysis. Neural events are acquired through an array of 25 or 100 microelectrodes with a 400-microm inter-electrode spacing. One advantage of the new methodology is that implantation is achieved through transdural penetration, thereby reducing the disruption of the cortical tissue. The overall cortical territory sampled by the 25-electrode array is 1.6 x 1.6 mm (2.56 mm2) and by the 100-electrode array 3.6 x 3.6 mm (12.96 mm2). Using a recording system with 100 channels available, neural activity is simultaneously acquired on all electrodes, amplified, digitized, and stored on computer. In our data, average peak-to-peak signal/noise ratio was 11.5 and off-line waveform analysis typically allowed the separation of at least one well-discriminated single-unit per channel. The reported technique permits analysis of cortical function with high temporal and spatial resolution. We use the technique to create an 'image' of neural activity distributed across the whisker representation of rat somatosensory (barrel) cortex.