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Intracellular microelectrodes were used to record the effects of extended periods (1-30 min) of synaptic activation on AH neurons in the myenteric ganglia of the guinea-pig ileum. Low-frequency (1 Hz) stimulation gave rise to a slowly developing, sustained increase in excitability of the neurons associated with depolarization and increased input resistance. The increased excitability lasted for up to 3.5 h following the stimulus period. Successive stimulus trains (1-4 min) elicited successively greater increases in excitability. The neurons went through stages of excitation. Before stimulation, 500-ms depolarizing pulses evoked up to three action potentials (phasic response) and anode break action potentials were not observed. As excitability increased, more action potentials were evoked by depolarization (the responses became tonic), anode break action potentials were observed, prolonged after hyperpolarizing potentials that follow multiple action potentials were diminished and, with substantial depolarization of the neurons, invasion by antidromic action potentials was suppressed. It is concluded that a state of elevated excitability is induced in myenteric AH neurons by synaptic activation at low frequency and that changes in excitability can outlast stimulation by several hours.