1. Whole cell voltage-clamp recordings (access resistance < or = 12 M omega) from CA1 pyramidal cells in the guinea pig hippocampal slice revealed a hyperpolarization-activated inward current with an inward tail upon repolarization. The current activation range extended from approximately -50 mV to -130 mV, with half-activation at -86 mV. This current was identified as the q current (Iq). 2. Intracellular QX-314 (5 or 10 mM), a quaternary derivative of lidocaine, blocked Iq completely throughout its activation range. 3. There is a growing realization that Iq may be responsible for the pacemaker depolarization in cells that display rhythmic calcium spikes. Because QX-314 blocks Iq completely, it could be used to test whether Iq is essential to this oscillatory activity.