Diabetes mellitus is associated with impairments of cognitive function both in humans and animal models. In diabetic rats cognitive deficits are related to alterations in activity-dependent synaptic plasticity in the hippocampus. Many similarities with the pathophysiology of normal brain aging have been noted, and the view emerges that the effects of diabetes on the brain are best described as "accelerated brain aging."In the present study we examined whether CA1 pyramidal neurons from streptozotocin-induced diabetic rats display an increased slow afterhyperpolarization, often considered as a hallmark of neuronal aging. We found no differences in resting membrane potential, input resistance, membrane time-constant, and action potential amplitude and duration between CA1 pyramidal neurons from streptozotocin-induced diabetic and age-matched control rats. During a train of action potentials, however, there is an increased broadening of the action potentials in diabetic animals, so-called "spike broadening." The amplitude of the slow afterhyperpolarization elicited by a train of action potentials is indeed increased in diabetic animals. Interestingly, when the slow afterhyperpolarization is elicited by a Ca(2+) spike, there is no difference between control and diabetic rats. This indicates that the increased slow afterhyperpolarization in diabetes is likely to be due to an increased Ca(2+) influx resulting from the increased spike broadening. These data underscore the notion that the diabetic brain at the neuronal level shares properties with brain aging.