We have analyzed the variance associated with the decay of the non-NMDA receptor component of synaptic currents, recorded from mossy fiber-granule cell synapses in cerebellar slices, to obtain a conductance estimate for the synaptic channel. Current fluctuations arising from the random channel gating properties were separated from those arising from the fluctuations in the population of channels by subtracting the mean excitatory postsynaptic current (EPSC) waveform scaled to the EPSC peak amplitude. A weighted mean single-channel conductance of approximately 20 pS was determined from the relationship between the mean current and the variance around the mean during the decay of evoked and spontaneous synaptic currents. This result suggests that high conductance non-NMDA channels, such as the 10-30 pS glutamate receptor channel previously characterized in granule cells, carry the majority of the fast component of the EPSC at this synapse. In addition, our data are consistent with the activation of surprisingly few (approximately 10) non-NMDA channels by a single packet of transmitter.