1. A method for delivering odour pulses of controlled onset, steady plateau and abrupt termination, has been developed and applied to a single unit study of mitral cell responses in the olfactory bulb of the salamander. The pulses have been monitored during the experiments near the site of stimulation on the olfactory mucosa.2. Responses have been categorized as excitatory or suppressive based on the initial response to the odour pulse.3. Initially excitatory responses had sustained discharges near threshold. With increasing concentration, the discharge changed to a brief burst followed by suppression. The briefest latency of a unit response was 120 msec, using stimulation of medium concentration, after the start of the pulse; the majority of units appeared to be excited within 200-300 msec. Ramp stimuli gave increasing periods of excitation as the rise time of the odour front became less abrupt.4. Initially suppressive responses showed suppression at all levels of concentration. The majority of units appeared to have an onset of suppression about 300-400 msec after the start of the pulse.5. These basic responses, involving suppression or excitatory-suppressive sequences, can be correlated with some basic properties of the synaptic circuits in the olfactory bulb. The time courses of the initial responses appear to be within the time periods of the inhalation cycle of the salamander, and therefore may reflect mechanisms of processing of natural olfactory stimuli.