1. The intrinsic response properties of turtle Purkinje cells and the underlying conductances have been investigated with intradendritic and intrasomatic recordings in a slice preparation. 2. The active generation site for fast Na+ spikes was confined to the soma and for slow Ca2+ spikes to the dendrites. The configuration and generation of Ca2+ spikes was more affected by the level of extracellular K+ than were Na+ spikes. 3. Sodium spikes had a lower threshold than Ca2+ spikes at all recording sites. Sodium spike firing was abruptly initiated during depolarizing current pulses and the spike frequency increased from an early minimum to a higher steady-state level over a period of seconds or until the occurrence of Ca2+ spikes. Calcium spikes were always delayed by at least 100 ms from the onset of a depolarizing current pulse from rest. 4. The abrupt onset of Na+ spike firing was due to a tetrodotoxin-sensitive plateau potential. The phase of accelerating firing frequency and the delayed occurrence of Ca2+ spikes was due to a transient hyperpolarization activated by depolarization from rest or from more negative membrane potentials. The transient hyperpolarization was inactivated by depolarized holding potentials and was most probably generate by a rapidly inactivating K+ channel. 5. It is concluded that turtle Purkinje cells display the basic firing properties and underlying conductances known from Purkinje cells of other vertebrates. In turtle Purkinje cells Ca2+ spikes are actively generated in spiny dendrites and it is suggested that spiny dendrites rather than branch points are 'hot spots'. 6. The transient hyperpolarization, not previously described in Purkinje cells, seems particularly important for regulating Ca2+-dependent excitability.