Studies of the neural correlates of short-term memory in a wide variety of brain areas have found that transient inputs can cause persistent changes in rates of action potential firing, through a mechanism that remains unknown. In a premotor area that is responsible for holding the eyes still during fixation, persistent neural firing encodes the angular position of the eyes in a characteristic manner: below a threshold position the neuron is silent, and above it the firing rate is linearly related to position. Both the threshold and linear slope vary from neuron to neuron. We have reproduced this behavior in a biophysically plausible network model. Persistence depends on precise tuning of the strength of synaptic feedback, and a relatively long synaptic time constant improves the robustness to mistuning.