Fragments of the gastric fundus of 6-8-day-old rats were maintained in tissue culture. From the explant, adhered to a plastic substrate, epithelial cells migrated and developed to form a monolayer colony. Histological and histochemical studies as well as indirect immunofluorescence studies using anti-parietal cell antibodies testified to the presence of parietal cells in the monolayer during the first week. These parietal cells were distinguished by their vesicular cytoplasmic structures using phase-contrast or differential interference-contrast microscopy. Acridine Orange, an optical probe of H+ accumulation, was taken up preferentially by these parietal cells, exhibiting orange fluorescence within the cells on the third day of culture, in response to stimulation with gastrin, histamine and carbachol. The resting potential of these cultured parietal cells was about -20 mV. On day 2-4 of culture, the cell membrane became hyperpolarized (up to -30 to -40 mV) in response to gastrin, carbachol or histamine in the presence of isobutylmethyl-xanthine (IMX). During hyperpolarization, the membrane resistances decreased significantly. The amplitude and the polarity of secretagogue-induced responses were found to be dependent on the extracellular concentration of K+ (but not Na+ and Cl-). The carbachol-induced responses were inhibited by atropine but not curare. The responses induced by histamine plus IMX were blocked by cimetidine but not pyrilamine. Neither atropine nor cimetidine affected the gastrin-evoked responses. It is concluded that rat parietal cells have separate receptors for acetylcholine (muscarinic), gastrin and histamine (H2), and that an increase in the membrane permeability to K+ is closely associated with the responses of these receptors under these in vitro conditions.