1 The effects of the local anaesthetics QX-222 and procaine on nicotinic acetylcholine (ACh)-evoked currents in cultured parasympathetic cardiac neurones of the rat were investigated by use of the whole-cell, perforated-patch, and outside-out recording configurations of the patch clamp method. 2 QX-222 and procaine, applied to the extracellular surface, reversibly inhibited the peak amplitude of the whole-cell nicotinic ACh-evoked current in a concentration-dependent manner, with half-maximal inhibitory concentrations (IC50) of 28 microM and 2.8 microM, respectively, at -80 mV. In these neurones, the sustained inward current mediated by M1 muscarinic receptor activation was unaltered by QX-222, and neither local anaesthetic affected the adenosine 5'-triphosphate (ATP)-evoked current. 3 QX-222 and procaine block of nicotinic ACh-evoked inward current was voltage-dependent and enhanced by hyperpolarization. An e-fold change in their dissociation equilibrium constants (Kd) resulted from a 62 mV and a 122 mV change in membrane potential, respectively. 4 Both local anaesthetics produce a concentration-dependent increase in the half-time of decay of the nicotinic ACh-evoked inward current. 5 Measurements of unitary currents in outside-out patches showed that QX-222 reversibly increased the mean burst duration and closed time and reduced the mean channel open time and open-state probability of the nicotinic ACh receptor-channel (AChR) in a concentration-dependent manner. 6 The Kd and voltage sensitivity of local anaesthetic block of the nicotinic AChR in rat intracardiac neurones suggests that the pore-forming region of this channel differs from that of the AChR in frog and rat skeletal muscle and from the neuronal alpha 4 beta 2 ACh receptor-channel.