One of the more dramatic technological developments in recent years in neurobiology is the ability to extract a slice of brain tissue and to maintain its viability over extended periods of time. The development of brain slice preparations of the mammalian central nervous system provides a powerful tool for studying the physiology and pharmacology of neurons. In vitro preparations allow stable intracellular recordings to be made from cells. The characteristics of synaptic potentials and the intrinsic electrical properties can be measured while the extracellular environment is controlled and manipulated. Intracellular physiological studies in the anteroventral cochlear nucleus reveal that different morphological classes of cells have characteristic intrinsic electrical properties. Bushy cells are particularly well suited to preserve and convey the temporal firing pattern of inputs from the auditory nerve. Stellate cells can transform inputs from the auditory nerve by summing in time and space.