Pyramidal cells of layer V in rat prefrontal cortex display a prominent fast afterdepolarization (fADP) following an action potential. This ADP is blocked by replacing extracellular calcium with magnesium, by the application of the calcium-channel blocker cadmium, and by buffering intracellular calcium at near physiological levels. Thus this fast ADP appears mediated by a calcium-activated current. A prominent ADP is also observed following a calcium spike recorded in the presence of tetrodotoxin. The current underlying this ADP was recorded using a hybrid current-voltage protocol. A strong ADP could be observed in the presence of potassium channel blockers as well as at ECl. Furthermore, the current underlying the ADP increased with hyperpolarization in the subthreshold range and displayed an extrapolated reversal potential near +30 mV. Reducing the ratio of extracellular to intracellular sodium inhibited the current underlying the ADP and caused a hyperpolarizing shift in its reversal potential. We conclude that these cells express a calcium-activated cation nonselective current whose activation contributes to the generation of the fADP. This current could play an important role in determining the firing properties of pyramidal cells in cortex.