The effect of IEM-1742, a pentaethonium derivative, on the currents induced by iontophoretic applications of acetylcholine was studied in rat superior cervical ganglion neurons using patch-clamp method in the whole-cell modification. Blocking action increased with membrane hyperpolarization and was removed by strong membrane depolarization. Apparent dissociation constant for the receptor-blocker reaction was found to be (2.9 +/- 0.6) 10(-6) M (n = 6) at -50 mV and 20-23 degrees C. IEM-1742 blocks the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in its activated form. The dissociation of IEM-1742 from the receptor was drastically accelerated during its activation by agonist (trap-block). Trapped receptor was not released from the blocker only by membrane depolarization to the level at which any blocking effect is absent. The data obtained show that IEM-1742 in rat sympathetic ganglion neurons acts in the potential-dependent manner and displays a trap-effect.