Intracellular recordings obtained from globus pallidus neurons in guinea pig revealed, on the basis of their membrane properties, the existence of at least two major (types I and II) and one minor (type III) groups of neurons. Type I neurons were silent at the resting membrane level and generated a burst of spikes with strong accommodation to depolarizing current injection. Type II neurons fired at the resting membrane level or with small membrane depolarization, and their repetitive firing (< or = 200 Hz) was very sensitive to the amplitude of injected current and showed weak accommodation. Type III neurons did not fire spontaneously at the resting membrane level. The neurons were morphologically characterized by intracellular injection of biocytin following the electrophysiological recordings. Among the major groups, the soma size of type I neurons (40 x 23 microns) was larger than that of type II neurons (29 x 17 microns). Both types of neurons had three to six primary dendrites. Dendritic spines were very sparse. Occasionally, dendrites exhibited varicosities, especially in their terminal branches. Dendritic fields were disc-like in shape and were perpendicular to striopallidal fibers. Most of the axons had intranuclear collaterals. Main axonal branches projected rostrally or caudally, and in some neurons one axonal branch could be followed caudally, and another rostrally, into the striatum. These two types were major neurons in the globus pallidus and were considered to be projection neurons. Type III neurons were small (18 x 12 microns), and their dendrites were covered with numerous spines. They were considered to be interneurons.