Post-ganglionic neurones of the isolated rat superior cervical ganglion were voltage clamped at 37 degrees C using separate intracellular voltage and current micro-electrodes. Control experiments in current clamp suggested that the neurone is electrotonically compact, the soma and the proximal dendritic membranes being under good spatial voltage uniformity. Depolarizing voltage steps from membrane potentials near -50 mV evoked: (i) a voltage-dependent inward Na+ current, (ii) an inward Ca2+ current, (iii) a voltage-dependent outward K+ current, (iv) a Ca2+-activated K+ outward current. Depolarizations from holding potentials more negative than -60 mV elicited, besides the currents mentioned above, a fast transient outward current IA which peaked in 1-2.5 ms and then decayed to zero following an exponential time course. The IA current was shown to be primarily, if not exclusively, carried by K+. It was unaffected by removal of external Ca2+ or addition of Cd2+ and was weakly blocked by tetraethylammonium ions and partially by 4-aminopyridine. The IA current showed a linear instantaneous current-voltage relationship. Its activation ranged from -60 to 0 mV with a mid-point at -30 mV. The A conductance could be described in terms of a simple Boltzmann distribution for a single gating particle with a valency of +3. Both the development and removal of inactivation followed a single exponential time course with a voltage-dependent time constant which was large near the resting potential (42 ms at -70 mV) and small (11 ms) near -100 and -40 mV. Steady-state inactivation h infinity ranged from -100 to -50 mV, with a mid-point at -78 mV, suggesting that approximately 50% of the IA channels are available at the physiological resting potential. Action potentials elicited from various holding potentials showed maximal repolarization rates dependent on the holding potential itself. This voltage dependence was found to be in reasonably good agreement with that of h infinity curve. These data are consistent with the view that in the rat sympathetic neurone, under physiological conditions, it is the IA current rather than the delayed outward current that is responsible for the fast action potential repolarization.