Acoustic processing requires integration over time. We have used in vivo intracellular recording to measure neuronal integration times in anesthetized rats. Using natural sounds and other stimuli, we found that synaptic inputs to auditory cortical neurons showed a rather long context dependence, up to > or =4 s (tau approximately 1 s), even though sound-evoked excitatory and inhibitory conductances per se rarely lasted greater, similar 100 ms. Thalamic neurons showed only a much faster form of adaptation with a decay constant tau <100 ms, indicating that the long-lasting form originated from presynaptic mechanisms in the cortex, such as synaptic depression. Restricting knowledge of the stimulus history to only a few hundred milliseconds reduced the predictable response component to about half that of the optimal infinite-history model. Our results demonstrate the importance of long-range temporal effects in auditory cortex and suggest a potential neural substrate for auditory processing that requires integration over timescales of seconds or longer, such as stream segregation.