1. Single stretch-activated (SA) channels have been studied in isolated brain capillary endothelial cells as well as in the antiluminal membrane of intact porcine cerebral capillaries using the patch-clamp recording technique. 2. The SA channels were found to be cation selective and permeable to Na+, K+, Ba2+ and Ca2+. 3. With monovalent cations in the patch pipette, the channels showed inward rectification in cell-attached patches with a single-channel conductance of 37 pS at negative and 24 pS at positive clamp potentials. 4. With either 70 mM-Ca2+ or Ba2+ in the patch pipette, the current-voltage relation was linear with slope conductances of 16 and 19 pS, respectively. 5. Mean channel open probability increased with increasing pressure and with depolarizing clamp potentials. 6. Cell swelling induced by hypotonic shock activated the SA channels in cell-attached experiments. 7. The SA channel may be involved in cell volume or blood flow regulation. The contribution of these channels to the regulation of cerebrospinal salt and water content, especially in brain oedema, is discussed.