The bag cell neurons of Aplysia are capable of generating an afterdischarge, which, in vivo, triggers egg-laying behavior. Pharmacologic elevation of cyclic AMP levels in isolated bag cell neurons has been shown to initiate repetitive firming similar to that seen during an afterdischarge, and to decrease outward currents measured under voltage-clamp. We have now examined the effects of three autoactive neuropeptides, alpha-, beta-, and gamma-bag cell peptide (BCP), on cyclic AMP levels and voltage-dependent potassium currents in these neurons. Previous work has shown that alpha-BCP lowers cyclic AMP levels in intact clusters of bag cell neurons. We have found that beta-BCP elevates cyclic AMP levels, whereas gamma-BCP, like alpha-BCP, lowers cyclic AMP levels. We used whole cell patch clamp technique to determine the effects of the peptides on the delayed voltage-dependent potassium currents in isolated bag cell neurons. As one would predict from their effects on cyclic AMP levels, beta-BCP decreased the amplitude of the delayed potassium currents whereas both alpha- and gamma-BCP increased the amplitude of these currents. In contrast, no consistent effects of these peptides on the transient voltage-dependent potassium current (A-current) were seen in these cells. Our results suggest that these three autoactive peptides may contribute to changes in second messengers and ionic currents during a bag cell afterdischarge.