Using whole cell recordings from acute slices of the rat amygdala, we have examined the physiological properties of and synaptic connectivity to neurons in the lateral sector of the central amygdala (CeA). Based on their response to depolarizing current injections, CeA neurons could be divided into three types. Adapting neurons fired action potentials at the start of the current injections at high frequency and then showed complete spike-frequency adaptation with only six to seven action potentials evoked with suprathreshold current injections. Late-firing neurons fired action potentials with a prolonged delay at threshold but then discharged continuously with larger current injections. Repetitive firers discharged at the start of the current injection at threshold and then discharged continuously with larger current injections. All three cells showed prolonged afterhyperpolarizations (AHPs) that followed trains of action potentials. The AHP was longer lasting with a larger slow component in adapting neurons. The AHP in all cell types contained a fast component that was inhibited by the SK channel blocker UCL1848. The slow component, not blocked by UCL1848, was blocked by isoprenaline and was significantly larger in adapting neurons. Blockade of SK channels increased the discharge frequency in late firers and regular-spiking neurons but had no effect on adapting neurons. Blockade of the slow AHP with isoprenaline had no effect on any cell type. All cells received a mixed glutamatergic and GABAergic input from a medial pathway. Electrical stimulation of the lateral (LA) and basolateral (BLA) nuclei evoked a large monosynaptic glutamatergic response followed by a disynaptic inhibitory postsynaptic potential. Activation of neurons in the LA and BLA by puffer application of glutamate evoked a small monosynaptic response in 13 of 55 CeA neurons. Local application of glutamate to the CeL evoked a GABAergic response in all cells. These results show that at least three types of neurons are present in the CeA that can be distinguished on their firing properties. The firing frequency of two of these cell types is determined by activation of SK channels. Cells receive a small input from the LA and BLA but may receive inputs that course through these nuclei en route to the CeA.