1. We have used non-stationary variance analysis to examine the single channel conductance and the probability of channel opening at the peak of the homomeric GluR6 response (Po,peak) to 100-200 ms application (10-90% exchange time, 0.3 ms) of glutamate onto excised membrane patches from transiently transfected human embryonic kidney cells (HEK 293). 2. Our determinations of both Po,peak and single channel conductance of simulated current responses are insensitive to system filtering, response rise time, desensitization rate and measured variation in our drug perfusion speed. Isolation of stochastic current fluctuations using the local mean response waveform minimizes problems associated with modest rundown of response amplitude during the experiment. 3. The slope conductance calculated from the weighted mean unitary currents for the channels activated in response to glutamate application is 16 pS. Chord conductance between-40 and -80 mV is independent of agonist concentration. Conversion of the codon for glutamine621 to arginine (Q621R) by RNA editing reduces conductance by more than 35-fold to less than 0.4 pS without changing response time course, desensitization, or Po,peak. 4. Po,peak is high at saturating glutamate concentrations (0.65 +/- 0.23; mean +/- S.D.) and varies with agonist concentrations. The half-maximally effective glutamate concentration (EC50) determined for Po,peak (0.2 mM; Hill slope = 0.6) is similar to that determined for the macroscopic peak current amplitude (0.5 mM; Hill slope = 1.0) in response to rapid agonist application. 5. Inclusion of the purified catalytic subunit of cAMP-dependent protein kinase A (PKA) in the patch pipette increases Po,peak to 0.85 +/- 0.12 and co-transfection of cells with a cDNA encoding the catalytic subunit of PKA (C alpha-PKA) increases Po,peak to 0.94 +/- 0.09. 6. Inclusion of purified calcineurin plus its coactivators 200 nM Ca2+ and calmodulin in the patch pipette decreases Po,peak to 0.48 +/- 0.10. The calcineurin-stimulated decrease of Po,peak in cells co-transfected with C alpha-PKA is blocked by 800 nM deltamethrin, a calcineurin inhibitor. Calmodulin, 200 nM Ca2+ and deltamethrin have no effect on Po,peak in the absence of calcineurin. As predicted from its effects on Po,peak, inclusion of calcineurin in the patch pipette accelerates the run-down of whole cell GluR6 responses in cells co-transfected with C alpha-PKA. 7. The effects of both calcineurin and PKA on Po,peak for GluR6 receptors in excised patches occur without any detectable changes to response time course, desensitization, or chord conductance. 8. We conclude that the binding of glutamate to homomeric GluR6 receptors is associated with a high probability of channel opening, which is under the control of two signalling systems that are known to be co-localized at the neuronal membrane: PKA (Po,peak near 1.0) and calcineurin (Po,peak near 0.5).