Intracellular recordings were obtained from rat neocortical neurons in vitro. The current-voltage-relationship of the neuronal membrane was investigated using current- and single-electrode-voltage-clamp techniques. Within the potential range up to 25 mV positive to the resting membrane potential (RMP: –75 to –80 mV) the steady state slope resistance increased with depolarization (i.e. steady state inward rectification in depolarizing direction). Replacement of extracellular NaCl with an equimolar amount of choline chloride resulted in the conversion of the steady state inward rectification to an outward rectification, suggesting the presence of a voltage-dependent, persistent sodium current which generated the steady state inward rectification of these neurons. Intracellularly injected outward current pulses with just subthreshold intensities elicited a transient depolarizing potential which invariably triggered the first action potential upon an increase in current strength. Single-electrode-voltage-clamp measurements reveled that this depolarizing potential was produced by a transient calcium current activated at membrane potentials 15–20 mV positive to the RMP and that this current was responsible for the time-dependent increase in the magnitude of the inward rectification in depolarizing direction in rat neocortical neurons. It may be that, together with the persistent sodium current, this calcium current regulates the excitability of these neurons via the adjustment of the action potential threshold.