1. Extracellular and intracellular recordings were made in the caudal subdivisions of the nucleus tractus solitarii (NTS) to locate and characterize neurons excited by afferents from pulmonary rapidly adapting receptors (RARs) in Nembutal-anaesthetized cats. 2. Neurons identified as second-order cells activated by RARs (RAR-cells) were activated by electrical stimulation of myelinated afferents in the cervical portion of the vagus nerve(s) and by at least two of the following 'physiological' stimuli: (a) collapse of the lungs to atmospheric pressure; (b) hyperinflation of the lungs by either increasing tidal volume or maintained lung inflations; and (c) brief inhalation of ammonia vapour. 3. Of the ninety-nine RAR-cells identified and studied extracellularly, eighty-four were localized within the commissural nucleus of the NTS. Seventy-four cells responded monosynaptically to electrical stimulation of both ipsi- and contralateral vagal stimulation. The remaining ten RAR-cells located in the commissural nucleus and the fifteen located in the caudal portion of the medial subnucleus of the NTS rostral to the obex, responded to the ipsilateral vagus only. 4. Under control ventilatory conditions (bilateral pneumothorax, positive end-expiratory pressure of approx. 2 cmH2O), forty-eight of the ninety-nine RAR-cells showed spontaneous ventilator-related activity, occurring primarily during ventilator-induced deflations (thirty of forty-eight). 'Reversal' of this ventilator-related modulation, from firing predominantly during lung deflations to lung inflations, and vice versa, could be induced in eleven of the RAR-cells by changing the lung volume or by the inhalation of ammonia vapour. 5. Modulation of firing in synchrony with the central respiratory rhythm was observed in the activity of fourteen of the ninety-nine RAR-cells. 6. Intracellular recordings were made from twenty-two NTS neurons caudal to the obex that received monosynaptic excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs) from both ipsi- and contralateral vagus nerves. Two were positively identified as RAR-cells. 7. It is concluded that the commissural nucleus of the NTS is the major location of RAR-cells, and that the response characteristics of these neurons largely, but not entirely, correspond to the known properties of RARs.