1. Steady-state recurrent (Renshaw) inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (RIPSPs) were evoked in cat triceps surae motoneurons by stimulating the heteronymous muscle nerve at 100 Hz after dorsal root section. The effective synaptic currents (i.e., the net synaptic current measured at the soma, IN) underlying these inhibitory potentials were measured with a modified voltage-clamp technique. 2. The average value of the effective synaptic currents measured in medial gastrocnemius (MG) motoneurons was 0.4 nA. There was no significant correlation between the IN measured in individual cells and motoneuron input resistance (RN), rheobase (IR), duration of the spike afterhyperpolarization (AHPt1/2), or putative motor-unit type, although the steady-state inhibitory post-synaptic potential (IPSP) amplitudes were correlated with all of these parameters. 3. Steady-state recurrent inhibition was accompanied by a small (3.5%, on average) decrease in the resting input resistance of the motoneurons. The small magnitude of this measured change supports the hypothesis of Burke et al. that the site of synaptic contact between Renshaw cells and motoneurons is somewhat distal to the cell soma. 4. The absence of a differential distribution of the effective synaptic currents generated by Renshaw cells within the MG pool does not support the idea that recurrent inhibition mediates a selective reduction of the firing of small, low-threshold motoneurons by large, high-threshold motoneurons. The small amplitude of the effective synaptic currents we measured suggests that the contribution of recurrent inhibition to the direct modulation of motoneuron firing rate is subtle and that it is perhaps principally involved in the fine control and smooth production of muscle force.