Basal dendrites receive the majority of synapses that contact neocortical pyramidal neurons, yet our knowledge of synaptic processing in these dendrites has been hampered by their inaccessibility for electrical recordings. A new approach to patch-clamp recordings enabled us to characterize the integrative properties of these cells. Despite the short physical length of rat basal dendrites, synaptic inputs were electrotonically remote from the soma (>30-fold excitatory postsynaptic potential (EPSP) attenuation) and back-propagating action potentials were significantly attenuated. Unitary EPSPs were location dependent, reaching large amplitudes distally (>8 mV), yet their somatic contribution was relatively location independent. Basal dendrites support sodium and NMDA spikes, but not calcium spikes, for 75% of their length. This suggests that basal dendrites, despite their proximity to the site of action potential initiation, do not form a single basal-somatic region but rather should be considered as a separate integrative compartment favoring two integration modes: subthreshold, location-independent summation versus local amplification of incoming spatiotemporally clustered information.