The minimal presynaptic depolarization (MPD) for producing a detectable postsynaptic potential (PSP) was lower than 25 mv in normal or tetrodotoxin (TTX)-containing seawater. The MPD was about 10 mv when a small amount of tetraethylammonium ions (TEA) was injected into the presynaptic terminal. Application of linearly increasing depolarizing current to the normal presynaptic terminal at times produced a PSP before a presynaptic spike was evoked; the rate of rise of the resulting PSP was much slower than that of a PSP triggered by the normal presynaptic spike. A brief depolarizing pulse that preceded the presynaptic spike in normal seawater or the initial transient presynaptic depolarization in TTX decreased the PSP. It increased the PSP when it was applied during the spike or initial transient depolarization. Hyperpolarizing pulses had the reverse effect. The Off-PSP was also modified by inserting pulses at an initial part of the recovery phase of the strong presynaptic depolarization. These results indicate further that increases in Na+ and K+ conductance during presynaptic spike activity are not a requirement for transmitter release; the rate of release of transmitter can be controlled by electrical manipulation of the presynaptic terminal; there is a superficial correspondence between the time courses of presynaptic depolarization and the resulting PSP. Thus presynaptic depolarization appears to be only the first step in the series of events constituting excitation-transmitter release coupling. It may not be a necessary step for the release mechanism.

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