Recently we reported that rat taste receptor cells respond to the neurotransmitter serotonin with an inhibition of a calcium-activated potassium current . In the present study, this observation is confirmed and extended by studying the effects of an array of serotonergic agonists on membrane properties, calcium-activated potassium current, and voltage-dependent sodium current in taste receptor cells using the patch-clamp recording technique in the whole-cell configuration. Serotonergic inhibition of calcium-activated potassium current was mimicked by the agonists N-(3-trifluoromethylphenyl)piperazine and by (+/-)-2-dipropylamino-8-hydroxy-1,2,3,4-tetrahydronaphthalene. Both produced reversible inhibition of K(Ca) as well as significantly increasing the input resistance of the cell. The agonists 1-(1-naphthyl)piperazine and buspirone (both serotonin receptor 1A agonists) were similarly effective in reducing K(Ca). Outward current was unaffected by application of phenylbiguanide, a serotonin receptor 3 agonist, though current was affected by subsequent application of (+/-)-2-dipropylamino-8-hydroxy-1,2,3, 4-tetrahydronaphthalene. Two agonists-N-(3-trifluoromethylphenyl)piperazine and (+/-)-2-dipropylamino-8-hydroxy-1,2,3,4-tetrahydronaphthalene-were also tested on voltage-dependent sodium currents; both were effective and reversible in reducing its magnitude at a variety of applied potentials. These data are consistent with the notion that serotonin effects in rat taste receptor cells are mediated by serotonin 1A receptors, though other receptor subtypes may be additionally expressed. Serotonin may affect the taste cell electrical properties during active stimulation in a paracrine fashion.