Spontaneous slow waves (EEG) and multiple unit activity (MUA) were recorded in the posterior cingulate cortex (area 29) and the dorsal hippocampus of the freely moving rat by means of chronically implanted electrodes. Three different wave patterns were discerned in the cingulate EEG. Irregular slow waves occurred during grooming, drinking, eating (Type II behavior) and slow-wave sleep (SWS). The irregular waves also contained sharp transients of about 20 ms duration called EEG-spikes. EEG-spikes reversed their polarity within the cingulate cortex and correlated with an increase in cingulate MUA. They were probably generated by deep (layer IV to VI) neurons in the cingulate cortex. Theta rhythm of 6-10 Hz accompanied walking, rearing, postural shifts, head movements (Type I behavior) and rapid-eye-movement sleep (REMS). MUA of low-amplitude units was phase-locked to the local theta waves, suggesting local generation of the slow waves. However, volume-conduction from the hippocampus would likely contribute to the cingulate theta since no reversal of the theta waves was found in the cingulate cortex. Fast waves of greater than 30 Hz were generally larger during Type I than during Type II behavior. Cellular generators for fast waves are not known. High-amplitude (greater than 100 microV) MUA only appeared during Type II behavior, and in particular during SWS. During REMS, these units were silent. Stimulation of the contralateral homotopic cingulate cortex gave antidromic and synaptic components in the average evoked potential (AEP). The long latency waves of the AEP varied with behaviors and appeared oscillatory (25-40 Hz) during Type I but not during Type II behavior. In summary, the cingulate cortex has a rich gamut of spontaneous and evoked electrical activities which bears some resemblance to that of the hippocampus.