We have studied the effects of prolonged superfusion with L-aspartate and L-glutamate on the membrane potential and photoresponses recorded in luminosity type horizontal cells in the turtle retina using an everted eyecup preparation. These acidic amino acids produce effects which are a function of the past history of the impaled cell. Initial prolonged superfusions with 30 mM of either drug has no pronounced effect on the membrane potential and photoresponses of horizontal cells. Subsequent superfusions with either agent eventually produce depolarizations with reductions in the amplitudes of the light evoked responses. These effects, however, are transient; the horizontal cell rehyperpolarizes and the light evoked response grows with time. In a retina which had been stored at 4 degrees centrigrade for 20 hours, an initial superfusion with L-aspartate solution produced an immediate depolarization of the horizontal cell and complete suppression of the light evoked response for as long as the amino acid was present. The data are consistent with the existence of powerful amino acid uptake mechanisms operating at a number of sites within the inner and outer retina but also raise questions about the role of acidic amino acids in the outer plexiform layer of the turtle retina.