1. The activation of climbing fibres projecting to the posterior lobe cerebellar cortex by focal stimulation of the cerebral corticofugal pathway was investigated in anaesthetised rats. Large climbing fibre responses were evoked in parts of crus II and paramedian lobule by stimulation of corticofugal fibres. Lesions of the pyramidal tract just rostral to the inferior olive substantially reduced these responses, suggesting that they were not mediated by relays in the rostral brainstem. 2. By comparison of latencies of climbing fibre responses evoked from different locations in the corticofugal pathway, the conduction velocities of the corticofugal fibres that mediate the responses were estimated to be 1.9 +/- 0.3 m s(-1) (mean +/- S.E.M.). The fastest conducting corticofugal fibres were estimated to conduct significantly faster (18.7 +/- 2.3 m s(-1)). 3. Climbing fibre responses with similar form and cerebellar distribution were evoked from sites in the pyramidal tract rostral and caudal to the inferior olive. This suggests that at least a proportion of the fibres that activate climbing fibres are corticospinal fibres. 4. Lesions of the dorsal column nuclei did not affect the climbing fibre responses evoked in crus II, and produced a relatively small reduction of the responses in the paramedian lobule. This implies that the climbing fibre responses were not exclusively mediated via the dorsal column nuclei. 5. Corticofugal evoked climbing fibre responses were mapped across the cerebellar hemisphere. At some sites they were co-localised with responses evoked by limb afferents. On the basis of limb afferent inputs and other work, these zones were tentatively identified as being functionally equivalent to the c1, c2 and d zones described in the cat.