A-type ganglion cells of the mouse retina represent the visual channel that transfers temporal changes of the outside world very fast and with high fidelity. In this study we combined anatomical and physiological methods in order to study the glycinergic, inhibitory input of A-type ganglion cells. Immunocytochemical studies were performed in a transgenic mouse line whose ganglion cells express green fluorescent protein (GFP). The cells were double labeled for GFP and the four alpha subunits of the glycine receptor (GlyR). It was found that most of the glycinergic input of A-type cells is through fast, alpha1-expressing synapses. Whole-cell currents were recorded from A-type ganglion cells in retinal whole mounts. The response to exogenous application of glycine and spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs) were measured. By comparing glycinergic currents recorded in wildtype mice and in mice with specific deletions of GlyRalpha subunits (Glra1spd-ot, Glra2-/-, Glra3-/-), the subunit composition of GlyRs of A-type ganglion cells could be further defined. Glycinergic sIPSCs of A-type ganglion cells have fast kinetics (decay time constant tau = 3.9 +/- 2.5 ms, mean +/- SD). Glycinergic sIPSCs recorded in Glra2-/- and Glra3-/- mice did not differ from those of wildtype mice. However, the number of glycinergic sIPSCs was significantly reduced in Glra1spd-ot mice and the remaining sIPSCs had slower kinetics than in wildtype mice. The results show that A-type ganglion cells receive preferentially kinetically fast glycinergic inputs, mediated by GlyRs composed of alpha1 and beta subunits.