1. Intracellular recordings with single-electrode voltage clamp were employed to study the mechanism of adenosine-elicited inhibition of CA1 neurones of the rat in vitro. 2. Adenosine elicits a steady-state outward current in association with an increase in conductance. The driving force varied with external potassium concentration as predicted by the Nernst equation for a change primarily in potassium permeability. 3. Adenosine current was blocked by high concentrations of 4-aminopyridine or barium. In the majority of neurones this current was voltage insensitive. In the remainder, the current was inwardly rectifying. The rectification was blocked by tetraethylammonium. 4. When the adenosine-elicited potassium current was blocked, slow inward currents, normally carried by calcium, were unaffected by adenosine. We conclude that this adenosine inhibition is mediated by an increase in a voltage- and calcium-insensitive potassium conductance in CA1 neurones.