The relative permeability of endplate channels to monovalent and divalent metal ions was determined from reversal potentials. Thallium is the most permeant ion with a permeability ratio relative to Na+ of 2.5. The selectivity among alkali metals is weak with a sequence, Cs+ greater than Rb+ greater than K+ greater than Na+ greater than Li+, and permeability ratios of 1.4, 1.3, 1.1, 1.0, and 0.9. The selectivity among divalent ions is also weak, with a sequence for alkaline earths of Mg++ greater than Ca++ greater than Ba++ greater than Sr++. The transition metal ions Mn++, Co++, Ni++, Zn++, and Cd++ are also permeant. Permeability ratios for divalent ions decreased as the concentration of divalent ion was increased in a manner consistent with the negative surface potential theory of Lewis (1979 J. Physiol. (Lond.). 286: 417--445). With 20 mM XCl2 and 85.5 mM glucosamine.HCl in the external solution, the apparent permeability ratios for the alkaline earth cations (X++) are in the range 0.18--0.25. Alkali metal ions see the endplate channel as a water-filled, neutral pore without high-field-strength sites inside. Their permeability sequence is the same as their aqueous mobility sequence. Divalent ions, however, have a permeability sequence almost opposite from their mobility sequence and must experience some interaction with groups in the channel. In addition, the concentrations of monovalent and divalent ions are increased near the channel mouth by a weak negative surface potential.

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