1. Glutamate-activated single channels have been examined with conventional and internally perfused patch-clamp electrodes applied to the extrajunctional membrane of locust muscle fibres which were usually treated with concanavalin A to reduce desensitization. Channels opened by glutamate and other agonists have been compared.2. Recording patches were selected where there appeared to be only one active channel under the pipette. The conductance for single glutamate-activated channels was 150 pS and was not markedly dependent on clamp potential. The lifetimes of the channels were usually exponentially distributed with a mean of tau(glutamate) = 2.3 +/- 0.12 msec, T = 23 degrees C, V(m) = -60 mV.3. Channels opened by fluoroglutamate had a mean lifetime of tau(fluoroglutamate) = 1.4 +/- 0.1 msec; channels opened by quisqualate had a mean lifetime of tau(quisqualate) = 6.4 +/- 1.0 msec. The conductances of channels opened by fluoroglutamate, quisqualate and glutamate were not significantly different.4. The behaviour of individual receptor-channel complexes has been examined at various concentrations of glutamate. Drug solutions were applied through an internal perfusion pipette which allowed exchange of the solution in the patch-electrode tip within 10 sec. The distribution of channel closed times could be fitted with a single exponential. Channel lifetime was not markedly dependent on glutamate concentration (30-600 mum) whereas the channel closed time decreased with increasing glutamate concentration.5. The reciprocal of channel closed time vs. glutamate concentration had a slope value of 1.85 on logarithmic co-ordinates. The approximately second power dependence of net forward reaction rate on glutamate concentration suggests that at least two glutamate molecules activate a single receptor-channel complex.6. The apparent dissociation constant for the glutamate-receptor complex is large, being about 300-500 muM. If the receptors have an equally low affinity for neurally released transmitter, then only a small amount of the transmitter packet is expected to bind to receptors. Quisqualate and glutamate have similar receptor affinities whereas receptor affinity for fluoroglutamate is smaller.