We applied compartmental computer modeling to test a model of spike shape change in the jellyfish, Polyorchis penicillatus, to determine whether adaptive spike shortening can be attributed to the inactivation properties of a potassium channel. We modeled the jellyfish outer nerve-ring as a continuous linear segment, using ion channel and membrane properties derived in earlier studies. The model supported action potentials that shortened as they propagated away from the site of initiation and this was found to be largely independent of potassium channel inactivation. Spike broadening near the site of initiation was found to be due to a depolarization plateau that collapsed as two spikes spread from the point of initiation. The lifetime of this plateau was found to depend critically on the inward current flux and the space constant of the membrane. These data suggest that the spike shape changes may be due not only to potassium channel inactivation, but also to the passive properties of the membrane.