Experiments were conducted on Myxicola giant axons to determine if the sodium activation and inactivation processes are coupled or independent. The main experimental approach was to examine the effects of changing test pulses on steady-state inactivation curves. Arguments were presented to show that in the presence of a residual uncompensated series resistance the interpretation of the results depends critically on the manner of conducting the experiment. Analytical and numerical calculations were presented to show that as long as test pulses are confined to an approximately linear negative conductance region of the sodium current-voltage characteristic, unambiguous interpretations can be made. When examined in the manner of Hodgkin and Huxley, inactivation in Myxicola is quantitatively similar to that described by the h variable in squid axons. However, when test pulses were increased along the linear negative region of the sodium current-voltage characteristic, steady-state inactivation curves translate to the right along the voltage axis. The shift in the inactivation curve is a linear function of the ratio of the sodium, conductance of the test pulses, showing a 5.8 mv shift for a twofold increase in conductance. An independent line of evidence indicated that the early rate of development of inactivation is a function of the rise of the sodium conductance.

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