Neuromuscular preparations from third instar larvae of Drosophila are not well-maintained in commonly used physiological solutions: vacuoles form in the muscle fibers, and membrane potential declines. These problems may result from the Na:K ratio and total divalent cation content of these physiological solutions being quite different from those of haemolymph. Accordingly haemolymph-like solutions, based upon ion measurements of major cations, were developed and tested. Haemolymph-like solutions maintained the membrane potential at a relatively constant level, and prolonged the physiological life of the preparations. Synaptic transmission was well-maintained in haemolymph-like solutions, but the excitatory synaptic potentials had a slower time course and summated more effectively with repetitive stimulation, than in standard Drosophila solutions. Voltage-clamp experiments suggest that these effects are linked to more pronounced activation of muscle fiber membrane conductances in standard solutions, rather than to differences in passive muscle membrane properties or changes in postsynaptic receptor channel kinetics. Calcium dependence of transmitter release was steep in both standard and haemolymph-like solutions, but higher external calcium concentrations were required for a given level of release in haemolymph-like solutions. Thus, haemolymph-like solutions allow for prolonged, stable recording of synaptic transmission.