The recently discovered efferent projections from the main and accessory olfactory bulbs to the supraoptic nucleus (SON) were further investigated. Intracellular electrophysiological methods were used to determine (a) if these projections are monosynaptic, (b) which excitatory amino acid (EAA) receptor subtypes mediate responses to activation of these pathways and (c) whether the same receptor subtypes mediate responses of phasically firing (vasopressin) and continuously firing (putative oxytocin) neurons. Recordings were made from SON neurons in large explants and 500 μm thick horizontal slices, containing 2-6 mm of the piriform cortex and lateral olfactory tract (LOT). This allowed recording of synaptic responses to selective stimulation of the LOT. EPSPs in SON neurons faithfully followed stimulus frequencies of 50-100 Hz, indicating that these inputs were monosynaptic. Stimulus-evoked EPSPs were blocked by the non-specific EAA antagonist, kynurenate. Perifusion of the slice with Mg2+-free medium revealed the presence of NMDA receptors in addition to the non-NMDA receptors on both phasically and continuously firing cells, indeed, on all cells tested. Partial blockade of these EPSPs in Mg2+-free medium could be achieved with either the NMDA antagonist, AP5, or the non-NMDA antagonists, CNQX or NBQX. Full blockade of the stimulus-evoked EPSPs was effected by adding both types of antagonists to the medium, although spontaneous EPSPs were still observed in several cells. These results are consistent with prior studies showing both receptor subtypes in the SON. This is the first demonstration that afferent stimulation activates both subtypes in the same SON neuron regardless of its peptide content. © 1995 Elsevier Science B.V. All rights reserved.