In the primary auditory cortex of cats anaesthetized with nitrous oxide, single neurones were examined with respect to their responses to tone bursts and linear modulations of the frequency of an on-going continuous tone. Using FM ramps of 2.0 kHz excursion and varying centre frequency, each of 39 neurones was examined for its preference for the direction of frequency change of a ramp whose centre frequency was varied in and around the neurone's response area. Direction preference was strictly associated with the slopes of the cell's spike count-versus-frequency function over the frequency range covered by the ramp. Preferences for upward- and downward-directed ramps were associated with the low- and high-frequency slopes of the spike count function, respectively. The strength of the cell's direction preference was associated with the relative steepness of the spike count function over the frequency range covered by the ramp. The timing of discharges elicited by the frequency modulations was found to be the sum of the cell's latent period for tone bursts plus the time after ramp onset that the stimulus frequency fell within the neurone's response area. The implications of these data for the processing of narrow and broad frequency-modulated ramps are discussed.