1. Metabotropic glutamate receptor (mGluR)-agonist-induced hyperpolarizations and corresponding outward currents were analyzed in basolateral amygdala (BLA) neurons in rat brain slice preparations with current-clamp and single-electrode voltage-clamp recording to characterize the mGluR subtype(s) and the ion channel(s) mediating this response. 2. The mGluR agonist (1S,3R)-1-amino-cyclopentane-1,3-dicarboxylic acid (1S,3R-ACPD) induced a membrane hyperpolarization or outward current in BLA neurons in a concentration-dependent manner (median effective concentration = 34 microM; range = 10-200 microM); the 1S,3R-ACPD hyperpolarizations are recorded in 89% of neurons that accommodate or cease firing in response to a 400-ms depolarizing current injection (0.5 nA). 3. mGluR agonists elicited hyperpolarizations or outward currents in a concentration-dependent manner in the following rank order of potency: (2S,3S,4S)-alpha-(carboxycyclopropyl)glycine (L-CCG-I) > 1S,3R-ACPD > (s)-4-carboxyphenylglycine = (RS)-4-carboxy-3-hydroxyphenylglycine (4C3HPG) > L-aminophosphonobutyric acid > (1S,3S)-1-amino-cyclopentane-1,3-dicarboxylic acid. In contrast, the mGluR agonists quisqualate and ibotenate induced only depolarizations in the presence of D-2-amino-5-phosphonovalerate and 6-cyano-7-nitroquinoxaline-2,3-dione in BLA neurons. 4. The 1S,3R-ACPD-induced outward current is mediated through a large-conductance calcium-dependent potassium (BK) conductance. The BK channel blockers iberiotoxin and charybdotoxin blocked the response, as did the potassium channel blockers tetraethylammonium and 4-aminopyridine; the small-conductance calcium-activated potassium channel blocker apamin did not affect the response. 5. The mGluR-agonist-induced hyperpolarization is blocked in amygdala slices from animals pretreated with pertussis toxin (PTX). 1S,3R-ACPD hyperpolarizations were recorded in neurons contralateral but not ipsilateral to the site of PTX injection. 6. The antagonist (+/-)-alpha-methyl-4-carboxyphenylglycine (MCPG, 500 microM) reduced significantly the 1S,3R-ACPD-induced hyperpolarization. 7. In conclusion, the relative potency of L-CCG-I and 4C3HPG in evoking only hyperpolarizations (outward currents) in accommodating neurons, and the observation that MCPG (500 microM) reduces the hyperpolarization, suggest that a group-II-like mGluR underlies the hyperpolarizing response. The mGluR-induced response is sensitive to iberiotoxin and to pretreatment with PTX, suggesting activation of BK channels through a group II mGluR linked to a PTX-sensitive G protein in BLA neurons.