1. The action of four volatile anaesthetics on the evoked synaptic potentials of in vitro preparations of the hippocampus were examined. 2. All four anaesthetics (ether, halothane, methoxyflurane and trichloroethylene) depressed the synaptic transmission between the perforant path and the granule cells at concentrations lower than those required to maintain anaesthesia in intact animals. 3. The population excitatory post-synaptic potential (e.p.s.p.) and massed discharge of the cortical cells (population spike) were depressed at concentrations of the anaesthetics lower than those required to depress the compound action potential of the perforant path nerve fibres. None of the anaesthetics studied increased the threshold depolarization required for granule cell discharge. Furthermore, frequency potentiation of the evoked cortical e.p.s.p.s was not impaired by any of the anaesthetics studied. 4. It is concluded that all four anaesthetics depress synaptic transmission in the dentate gyrus either by reducing the amount of transmitter released from each nerve terminal in response to an afferent volley, or by decreasing the sensitivity of the post-synaptic membrane to released transmitted or by both effects together.