Reciprocal dendrodendritic synapses between mitral and granule cells in the accessory olfactory bulb have been implicated in a specialized form of olfactory learning in mice, in which a female forms a memory to the pheromonal signal of the male that mates with her. Relatively little is known, however, about the mechanism of synaptic transmission at the reciprocal synapses. We analyzed synaptic currents generated in accessory olfactory bulb mitral cells in slice preparations with the patch-clamp technique in nystatin-perforated whole-cell configuration. A brief (5-20-ms) depolarizing voltage step from -70 to 0 mV applied to a single mitral cell evoked GABA(A) receptor-mediated inhibitory postsynaptic currents. The inhibitory postsynaptic currents persisted in the presence of tetrodotoxin, indicating that the inhibitory postsynaptic current in mitral cells can be elicited through purely dendritic interactions. The inhibitory postsynaptic currents were greatly enhanced by washout of extracellular Mg(2+). In Mg(2+)-free solution, the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist D,L-2-amino-5-phosphonovaleric acid greatly reduced the inhibitory postsynaptic currents, whereas the non-NMDA receptor antagonist 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-(1H,4H)-dione (CNQX) slightly reduced them. These data demonstrate that NMDA receptors play an important role in the generation of dendrodendritic inhibition in mitral cells of the mouse accessory olfactory bulb.