Microelectrode techniques were used to study the electrophysiologic effects of the tricyclic antidepressant (TCA) drugs imipramine , amitriptyline, doxepin, desipramine, protriptyline, and nortriptyline on isolated Tyrode's ([K +]o= 4.0 mM) superfused dog Purkinje fibers. Drug concentrations ranged from 10(-7) to 10(-5) M. TCA drug concentrations greater than 10(-6) M resulted in decreases in action potential amplitude, duration, and maximum slope of phase O (Vmax). Simultaneously with decreases in action potential duration, the effective refractory period decreased. In addition, the voltage time course of repolarization between proximally and distally recorded action potentials became less obvious. Imipramine, doxepin, protriptyline, and nortriptyline (10(-6), 10(-5) M) depressed membrane responsiveness. Superfusion of dog Purkinje fibers with 10(-5) M concentrations of TCA drugs resulted in conduction delay, postrepolarization refractoriness and, occasionally, total inexcitability. TCA drugs caused an increase in escape time and a decrease in spontaneous rate of spontaneously automatic Purkinje fibers equilibrated with epinephrine (10(-7) M) in 5 X 10(-5) M EDTA. Imipramine, doxepin, protriptyline, and nortriptyline abolished extra nondriven action potentials, and diminished oscillatory afterpotentials in dog Purkinje fibers exposed to toxic concentrations of ouabain (2 X 10(-7) M).