When ATP is applied at high concentrations (above 1 mM) to PC12 cells, it produces a rapidly desensitizing peak current followed by a rebound of the current after termination of the ATP application. We expressed P2X2 receptors, which are thought to mediate the ATP currents of PC12 cells, in HEK293 cells and studied the effects of acidification on this 'fading and rebound' phenomenon. We found that the desensitization disappeared after adjusting the low pH (<5.0) of the millimolar ATP concentrations to a more physiological value (pH 7.3). Furthermore, the fading and rebound could also be induced at much lower ATP concentrations by decreasing the pH of the ATP containing application solutions. Thus, it appears this phenomenon is not caused directly by high concentrations of ATP, but is due to a concomitant acidification that occurs when high concentrations of ATP are dissolved in only moderately buffered application solutions.