The time-course of the light-induced changes in membrane voltage and resistance were measured for single photoreceptors in the retina of Gekko gekko. In the surgically isolated retina, small stimuli directed toward the impaled receptor produced a membrane hyperpolarization the time-course of which was identical to that of the increase in membrane resistance. In the eyecup preparation nearly identical time-courses were evoked only after perfusion of the vitreous surface with solution having high (Mg++). Disparate time-courses were obtained in (a) the isolated retina when large or displaced stimuli were used, and (b) the eyecup preparation when it was treated normally (see Pinto and Pak. 1974. J. Gen. Physiol. 64:49) and when it was exposed to aspartate ions or hypoxia. These results are consistent with the hypothesis that the receptor potential (elicited in the impaled receptor as a result of quanta only it captures) is generated by a single ionic process that decreases membrane conductance. These measurements provide a means to distinguish the receptor potential from interactions. From direct measurements of membrane time constant and total resistance in darkness, total membrane capacitance was calculated. The mean capacitance was 7.1 x 10-5 µF. This high value is consistent with anatomical observations of membrane infoldings at the base of gecko photoreceptors.

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