1. An electrophysiological study of ascending and descending connexions between the dorsal raphe region of the mesencephalic periaqueductal grey matter and the medial preoptic area has been performed in dioestrous female rats anaesthetized with urethane. 2. Extracellular action potentials recorded from 208 neurones in the medial preoptic area were analysed for a change in excitability following stimulation of the periaqueductal grey matter. 174 neurones were also tested for changes in excitability following stimulation of the mediobasal hypothalamus. 3. Stimulation of the periaqueductal grey matter at 1 Hz was rarely effective, but short trains of pulses (three at 100 Hz) usually caused an initial inhibition (62.5% of 208) of both projection identified and adjacent neurones of the medial preoptic area, at latencies of 5--90 msec (mean 34.1 +/- 1.4 msec). Inhibition following stimulation of the mediobasal hypothalamus occurred less frequently (34%) and at shorter latency (mean 12.0 +/- 1.8 msec; n = 48). 4. Less frequently (10.6%) periaqueductal grey matter stimulation caused an initial excitation of preoptic neurones at latencies of 15--180 msec, (mean 35.3 +/- 7.2). Initial excitation following mediobasal hypothalamus stimulation was stronger, occurred more frequently (29%) and at shorter latencies (range 3--60 msec, mean 13.1 +/- 1.5). Following such initial excitation, inhibition of spontaneous or ionophoretically evoked activity occurred more frequently following mediobasal hypothalamic stimulation, than after periaqueductal grey matter stimulation. 5. Twenty-four neurones displayed antidromic invasion following periaqueductal grey matter stimulation. Latencies for invasion ranged from 13 to 50 msec (mean 25.5 +/- 2.0 msec) and are suggestive of an unmyelinated projection. Occasionally an abrupt decrease in latency followed an increase in stimulus intensity. Antidromic invasion from mediobasal hypothalamus was characterized by a shorter latency (mean 12.5 +/- 0.7 msec; n = 43). A period of reduced excitability lasting 40--100 msec followed antidromic invasion from either site. 6. Antidromic responses to paired mediobasal hypothalamic or periaqueductal grey matter stimuli at 5 msec intervals revealed an increased latency of invasion of the second response, due to the partial refractory period of the neurone. Five cells showed a decreased latency of invasion at stimulus separations of 10--150 msec, interpreted as evidence of a supranormal period. Changes in conduction velocity during the supranormal period may give rise to a variable latency of invasion of spontaneously active cells. 7. These results provide evidence for direct, reciprocal connexions between the midbrain central grey and the medial preoptic area. These circuits may play a role in controlling neuroendocrine and behavioural aspects of reproductive functions.