In vitro brain slices are the preparation of choice for the detailed examination of local circuit properties in mammalian brain. However it is the investigator's responsibility to verify that the circuits under investigation are indeed confined within the boundaries of the functional region of the slice used. The medium in which the slice is maintained is under the full control of the investigator. This places the burden on the investigator to ensure that: (1) the properties of the medium are fully under control; (2) the effects of the medium on the slice are known; (3) the conditions under which the slice is being maintained bear some reasonable relation to those it enjoys (or endures) in vivo. Generalizations to in vivo conditions must be made with caution. If at all possible, similar studies (perhaps less extensive, due to the greater technical difficulties) should be done in vivo to provide a basis for comparison. Investigators using drugs should be aware of, and respect, the basic pharmacological principles cited in the text. In particular, the substantial freedom the investigator has in defining the extracellular medium should not be abused.