Dopamine (DA) is an endogenous neuromodulator in the mammalian brain. However, it is still controversial how DA modulates excitability and input- output relations in cortical neurons. It was suggested that DA innervation of dendritic spines regulates glutamatergic inputs to pyramidal neurons, but no experiments were done to test this idea. By recording individual neurons under direct visualization we found that DA enhances inhibitory neuron excitability but decreases pyramidal cell excitability, through depolarization and hyperpolarization, respectively. Accordingly, DA also increased the frequency and amplitude of spontaneous inhibitory postsynaptic currents (sIPSCs). In the presence of TTX, DA did not affect the frequency, amplitude, or kinetics of miniature IPSCs and excitatory postsynaptic currents in inhibitory interneurons or pyramidal cells. Our results suggest that DA can directly excite cortical interneurons, but there is no detectable DA gate to regulate spontaneous GABA and glutamate release or the properties of postsynaptic GABA and glutamate receptors in neocortical neurons.