The effects of fictive locomotion on monosynaptic EPSPs recorded in motoneurones and extracellular field potentials recorded in the ventral horn were examined during brainstem-evoked fictive locomotion in decerebrate cats. Composite homonymous and heteronymous EPSPs and field potentials were evoked by group I intensity (<= 2T) stimulation of ipsilateral hindlimb muscle nerves. Ninety-one of the 98 monosynaptic EPSPs were reduced in amplitude during locomotion (mean depression of the 91 was to 66 % of control values); seven increased in amplitude (to a mean of 121 % of control). Twenty-one of the 22 field potentials were depressed during locomotion (mean depression to 72 % of control). All but 14 Ia EPSPs were smaller during both the flexion and extension phases of locomotion than during control. In 35 % of the cases there was < 5 % difference between the amplitudes of the EPSPs evoked during the flexion and extension phases. In 27 % of the cases EPSPs evoked during flexion were larger than those evoked during extension. The remaining 38 % of EPSPs were larger during extension. There was no relation between either the magnitude of EPSP depression or the locomotor phase in which maximum EPSP depression occurred and whether an EPSP was recorded in a flexor or extensor motoneurone. The mean recovery time of both EPSP and field potential amplitudes following the end of a bout of locomotion was approximately 2 min (range, < 10 to > 300 s). Motoneurone membrane resistance decreased during fictive locomotion (to a mean of 61 % of control, n = 22). Because these decreases were only weakly correlated to EPSP depression (r 2 = 0.31) they are unlikely to fully account for this depression. The depression of monosynaptic EPSPs and group I field potentials during locomotion is consistent with the hypothesis that during fictive locomotion there is a tonic presynaptic regulation of synaptic transmission from group Ia afferents to motoneurones and interneurones. Such a reduction in neurotransmitter release would decrease group Ia monosynaptic reflex excitation during locomotion. This reduction may contribute to the tonic depression of stretch reflexes occurring in the decerebrate cat during locomotion.