The mechanism of periodic gonadotropin-releasing hormone (GnRH) secretion from hypothalamic neurons is difficult to elucidate due to the diffuse distribution of GnRH neurons and the complex interaction of neuronal inputs onto them. Recent use of transgenic techniques allowed construction of an immortalized GnRH neuronal cell line (GT1), which has neuronal markers and secretes GnRH in a periodic fashion. Using the patch-clamp recording technique in the whole-cell and nystatin perforated-patch configuration, the present experiments show that this cell line expressed a tetrodotoxin-sensitive Na channel, two types of Ca channels, three types of outward K channels and a K inward rectifier. The latter current was suppressed in some cells by GnRH or somatostatin. In addition, a gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) response, presumably through GABAA receptors, is recorded. In long-term current-clamp recordings, spontaneous depolarizing activity was found to increase, and then decrease, between 20-35 min after removal of the cells from serum- and steroid-containing medium. In some cases, more than one cycle of activity was seen. Under voltage clamp, an inward current was recorded at similar times, with reversal at about -15 mV. Thus, two mechanisms of cell interaction, GABAA responses and feedback through GnRH responses, and one mechanism of endogenous periodic electrical activity were observed in these cells, which could synchronize periodic GnRH release.