1. Neurotransmitters were applied ionophoretically to spontaneously beating clusters of ventricular muscle cells cultured from neonatal rats. 2. Acetylcholine or its analogue carbachol produced hyperpolarization and decreased the rate of spontaneous beating. These responses had minimum latencies of about 250 msec and total durations of 6-12 sec. 3. Noradrenaline, adrenaline or isoprenaline increased the rate of spontaneous beating. The minimum latency for this effect was 3-6 sec. Following a single brief pulse the rate remained elevated for 2 min or more. 4. Chronotropic responses of intact atria from adult rats to stimulation of the autonomic nerves were of similar time course to responses of the cultured muscle cells. 5. Calculations based on the theory of diffusion showed that access of drugs to their receptors could not be rate-limiting for the observed responses, unless a diffusion barrier of rather special properties was postulated. A number of other explanations for the long latencies have been ruled out; these are most likely to be due to some physical or chemical process occurring in or under the cell membrane. 6. Attempts to mimic responses to catecholamines by intracellular application of cyclic AMP were unsuccessful, perhaps because the release of nucleotide from the pipettes was insufficient. A theoretical treatment suggests that ionophoretic efflux of anions might be greatly diminished by the opposing electro-osmotic flux.