1. Intracellular recordings were made from neurones in the submucous plexus of the guinea-pig caecum and ileum. 2. Somatostatin hyperpolarized more than 90% of the neurones. The lowest effective concentration was 300 pM and the maximum hyperpolarization (about 30-35 mV) was caused by 30 nM. Under voltage clamp at -60 mV, somatostatin caused outward currents which reached a maximum of 350-700 pA. 3. The hyperpolarization or outward current reversed polarity at a membrane potential (about -90 mV in control solutions) which changed according to the logarithm of the external potassium concentration. 4. The somatostatin current showed inward rectification; when the inward rectification of the resting membrane was prevented by extracellular caesium or rubidium, the inward rectification of the somatostatin current also disappeared. 5. A potassium conductance with the same properties was increased by alpha 2-adrenoceptor agonists and by delta-opioid receptor agonists; however, the effects of somatostatin were unaffected by antagonists at alpha 2- or delta-receptors. The somatostatin analogue, cyclo-aminoheptanoyl-Phe-D-Trp-Lys-(benzyl)Thr, also did not antagonize the actions of somatostatin. 6. The hyperpolarization (or outward current) was unaffected by forskolin, cholera toxin, sodium fluoride, phorbol esters or intracellular application of adenosine 5'-O-(3-thiotriphosphate) (ATP-gamma-S). However, when the recording electrode contained guanosine 5'-O-(3-thiotriphosphate) (GTP-gamma-S) the hyperpolarizations reversed only partially when somatostatin application was discontinued, and repeated applications caused the membrane potential to approach and remain close to the potassium equilibrium potential. 7. It is concluded that somatostatin increases the conductance of a set of inwardly rectifying potassium channels in submucous plexus neurones. The coupling between somatostatin receptor and ion channel involves a guanosine 5'-triphosphate-binding protein, but is not likely to result from changes in intracellular levels of cyclic adenosine 3',5'-monophosphate.