The afterdischarge of Aplysia bag cell neurons has served as a model system for the study of phosphorylation-mediated changes in neuronal excitability. The nature of the depolarization generating the afterdischarge, however, has remained unclear. We now have found that venom from Conus textile triggers a similar prolonged discharge, and we have identified a slow inward current and corresponding channel, the activation of which seems to contribute to the onset of the discharge. The slow inward current is voltage-dependent and Ca(2+)-sensitive, reverses at potentials slightly positive to O mV, exhibits a selectivity of K approximately equal to Na > Tris > N-methyl-D-glucamine (NMDG), and is blocked by high concentrations of tetrodotoxin. Comparison of these features with those observed in channel recordings provides evidence that a Ca(2+)-sensitive, nonspecific cation channel is responsible for a slow inward current that regulates spontaneous repetitive firing and suggests that modulation of the cation channel underlies prolonged changes in neuronal response properties.