A procedure for dissociating viable taste cells from the rodent tongue was described. After the tongue was excised, the foliate and circumvallate papillae from the posterior region were blocked to small pieces and incubated for 2-3 h in a calcium-free salt solution containing the enzyme papain. The pieces were then transferred to a Ca-replete medium. The epithelium was easily removed from the underlying muscle and gland tissue with forceps. Light mechanical agitation caused single cells, epithelial and gustatory, to dissociate from the keratinized epithelium. Taste cells were identified by their morphology. Their viability was assessed with the patch clamp technique in the whole cell recording mode. This procedure should enhance the electrophysiological study of gustatory transduction mechanisms.