The thalamic paraventricular nucleus (PVT), reported to participate in arousal and motivated behaviors, contains abundant receptors for thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH), a neuropeptide also known to modulate arousal and mood. To test the hypothesis that TRH could influence the excitability of PVT neurons, whole cell patch-clamp recordings obtained in rat brain slice preparations were evaluated during bath applied TRH. In the majority of neurons tested, TRH induced reversible TTX-resistant membrane depolarization. Under voltage-clamp, TRH induced a concentration-dependent G protein- mediated inward current. The mean net TRH-induced current exhibited a decrease in membrane conductance. Further analyses identified two concurrent conductances contributing to the TRH-induced response. One conductance featured a Na+-independent and K+-dependent net current that displayed rectification and was suppressed by micromolar concentrations of Ba2+ and two GIRK antagonists, tertiapin Q and SCH 23390. The second conductance featured a Na+-dependent net inward current with an I–V relationship that exhibited double rectification with a negative slope conductance below −40 mV. This conductance was suppressed by nonselective TRPC channel blockers 2-APB, flufenamic acid and ML204, enhanced by La3+ in a subpopulation of cells, and unchanged by the TRPV1 antagonist capsazepine or a Na+/Ca2+ exchanger blocker KB-R7943. TRH also enhanced hyperpolarization-activated low threshold spikes, a feature that was sensitive to pretreatment with either 2-APB or ML204. Collectively, the data imply that TRH enhances excitability in PVT neurons via concurrently decreasing a G-protein-gated inwardly rectifying K+ conductance and activating a cationic conductance with characteristics reminiscent of TRPC-like channels, possibly involving TRPC4/C5 subunits.