We studied the effects of maprotiline, a tetracyclic antidepressant agent, on transmembrane potentials recorded from papillary muscles of guinea pigs and sinoatrial nodes of rabbits, using standard microelectrode techniques. Maprotiline (10-100 microM) produced dose-dependent decreases in the maximum rate of rise (Vmax) and action potential duration in papillary muscles, while the resting potential (Em) was not significantly affected. Maprotiline also shifted the Vmax-Em relation to more negative potentials. The slow action potentials of papillary muscles elicited by high [K+]o were also depressed by the drug application. In sinoatrial node cells, maprotiline (above 10 microM) reduced heart rate, Vmax, and action potential amplitude, and increased the action potential duration at half-amplitude. The slope of the phase 4 depolarization was decelerated by the drug. These results suggest that maprotiline depresses not only the fast inward sodium current but also the slow inward calcium current, and that relatively high concentrations of maprotiline exert an inhibitory effect on the electrical activity of the fast- and slow-response fibers of the hearts.