Striatal spiny projection (SP) neurons control movement initiation by integrating cortical inputs and inhibiting basal ganglia outputs. Central to this control lies a "microcircuit" that consists of a feedback pathway formed by axon collaterals between GABAergic SP neurons and a feedforward pathway from fast spiking (FS) GABAergic interneurons to SP neurons. Here, somatically evoked postsynaptic potentials (PSPs) and currents (PSCs) were compared for both pathways with dual whole cell patch recording in voltage- and current-clamp mode using cortex-striatum-substantia nigra organotypic cultures. On average, feedforward inputs were 1 ms earlier, more reliable, and about twice as large in amplitude compared with most feedback inputs. On the other hand, both pathways exhibited widely varying, partially overlapping amplitude distributions. This variability was already established for single FS neurons targeting many SP neurons. In response to precisely timed action potential bursts, feedforward and feedback inputs consistently showed short-term depression < or =50-70% in voltage-clamp, although feedback inputs also displayed strong augmentation in current-clamp in line with previous reports. The augmentation of feedback inputs was absent in gramicidin D perforated-patch recording, which also showed the natural reversal potential for both inputs to be near firing threshold. Preceding depolarizing feedback inputs during the down state did not consistently change subsequent postsynaptic action potentials. We conclude that feedback and feedforward inputs have their dominant effect during the up-state. The reversal potential close to the up-state potential, which supports shunting operation with millisecond precision and the strong synaptic depression, should enable both pathways to carry time-critical information.