The effect of inhibition of the high-affinity uptake of glutamate on the extracellular concentration of amino acids and on neuronal excitability was studied in vivo in the hippocampus of the rat. The dentate gyrus or CA1 field were perfused through a dialytrode with Krebs-Ringer-bicarbonate or dihydrokainic acid solutions. The spontaneous electrical activity and evoked field potentials were recorded concomitantly at dendritic or somatic levels. The results showed that with dihydrokainic acid: the extracellular concentrations of both glutamate and taurine were markedly increased in both areas of the hippocampus, the response of taurine being greater in CA1, while other amino acids were unaffected; in the dentate gyrus, the field excitatory postsynaptic potential was decreased while the population spikes were augmented, indicating an increased excitability of the neuronal population. In CA1, both the excitatory postsynaptic potential and spikes were reduced in amplitude. These results indicate that changes in the extracellular concentration of endogenous glutamate influences excitability of the tissue and that inhibition of the uptake processes for putative amino acid neurotransmitters increases the postsynaptic action of synaptically-released endogenous amino acids.