To test whether the slow afterhyperpolarization (sAHP) underlies the filter function of hippocampal granule cells (GCs), we compared the sAHP and spike frequency adaptation between granule cells and CA3 pyramidal cells (PCs) in hippocampal slices employing gramicidin perforated patch clamp recordings to best preserve the physiological cytoplasmic constitution. sAHPs were evoked in GCs and PCs with trains of action potentials in current clamp mode and showed comparable kinetics in both types of cells. The threshold frequency (500 ms firing) triggering a detectable sAHP was approximately 10 Hz and approximately 3 Hz in GCs and PCs, respectively. Half maximal sAHPs were reached at 30 Hz and 8 Hz in GCs and PCs, respectively. Maximal amplitude of sAHPs in GCs amounted to approximately 3.5 mV, was approximately 2-fold smaller than in PCs and could not be further increased with higher firing frequencies. The time course of sAHP activation was investigated with 50 Hz trains of action potentials applied for increasing durations. In both types of cells, the sAHP amplitude increased with a time constant of approximately 400 ms. Nevertheless, sAHP never exceeded 4 mV in GCs but rose to approximately 12 mV in PCs when cells fired for 3 s. The repetitive firing pattern of GCs and PCs was compared by injecting current amplitudes adjusted to provoke an initial firing frequency of 50 Hz. In GCs firing frequency declined slower (tau = 229 ms) and leveled off at a higher tonic firing frequency (28 Hz) when compared to PCs (tau = 126 ms, 18 Hz). We conclude that the intrinsic excitability of GCs cannot be primarily regulated by the sAHP. The sAHP in GCs is minimal most likely due to a small sAHP-channel density as well as to a more rigid control of intracellular Ca(2+) levels.