Nitromethylene heterocyclic insecticides are known to act on the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor-channel complex. The effects of the nitromethylene heterocycle imidacloprid on the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor of clonal rat pheochromocytoma (PC 12) cells were studied using the single-channel patch clamp technique. Imidacloprid generated single-channel currents of multiple conductance states in PC12 cells. Both acetylcholine and imidacloprid induced single-channel currents of main conductance and subconductance states with conductances of 33.3 and 9.4 pS by acetylcholine and 30.4 and 9.8 pS by imidacloprid. However, the main conductance currents were generated predominantly by acetylcholine, whereas the subconductance currents were generated predominantly by imidacloprid. Partial block of acetylcholine-induced currents by imidacloprid may be explained on the basis of the single-channel behavior.