The effects of histamine (HA) on the resting membrane potential and input resistance of rat medial vestibular nucleus (MVN) neurons were investigated using intracellular recording techniques from a submerged brain slice preparation. The exogenous application of HA predominantly produced a concentration-dependent membrane depolarization and induction of action potential firing. The depolarization exhibited a rapid onset, a slow recovery, and usually occurred in the absence of any apparent change in conductance. These effects of HA could be mimicked by the H2-agonist impromidine and were reversibly blocked by the H2-antagonist cimetidine. Tetrodotoxin (TTX) or low calcium/high magnesium-containing media failed to block completely the HA-induced depolarization supporting a direct postsynaptic receptor mediated action of HA. The diminished HA-induced depolarization observed following pretreatment with TTX cannot exclude an additional presynaptic action by HA. The present findings reveal that HA exerts a novel direct excitation of rat MVN neurons through an H2-receptor.