Patch-clamp recording techniques have revolutionized understanding of the function and sub-cellular location of ion channels in excitable cells. The cell-attached patch-clamp configuration represents the method of choice to describe the endogenous properties of voltage-activated ion channels in the axonal, somatic and dendritic membrane of neurons, without disturbance of the intracellular milieu. Here, we directly examine the errors associated with cell-attached patch-clamp measurement of ensemble ion channel activity. We find for a number of classes of voltage-activated channels, recorded from the soma and dendrites of neurons in acute brain-slices and isolated cells, that the amplitude and kinetics of ensemble ion channel activity recorded in cell-attached patches is significantly distorted by transmembrane voltage changes generated by the flow of current through the activated ion channels. We outline simple error-correction procedures that allow a more accurate description of the density and properties of voltage-activated channels to be incorporated into computational models of neurons.