Based on anatomical, physiological, and model-based studies, it has been proposed that synapses associated with the ascending segment of granule cell axons provide the principle excitatory drive on Purkinje cells which is then modulated by the more numerous parallel fiber synapses. In this study we have evaluated this idea using a detailed compartmental model of a cerebellar Purkinje cell by providing identical ascending segment synaptic inputs during different levels of random parallel fiber and molecular interneuron input. Results suggest that background inputs from parallel fibers and molecular layer interneurons can have a substantial effect on the response of Purkinje cells to ascending segment inputs. Interestingly, these effects are not reflected in the average firing rate of the Purkinje cell and are thus entirely dendritic in effect. These results are considered in the context of the known segregated spatial distribution of the parallel fibers and ascending segment synapses and a new hypothesis concerning the functional organization of cerebellar cortical circuitry.