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Postsynaptic currents recorded from interneurons and pyramidal cells in hippocampal slices by local voltage clamping were found to be the sum of excitatory (EPSC) and inhibitory (IPSC) components. An approach allowing quantitative assessment of the amplitude and time course of EPSC and IPSC without pharmacological blockade of the major postsynaptic receptors involved in generating these currents was developed. The approach is based on the existence of a significant difference between reversion potentials of cationic and anionic currents and the presence of a linear zone in the voltage-current characteristics of responses to excitatory and inhibitory transmitters. Comparison of the results of this calculation-based method with those of classical pharmacological analysis of the excitatory and inhibitory components of postsynaptic currents showed them to be virtually identical, which allows synaptic currents in defined neurons to be studied without altering the state of synaptic connections throughout the brain slice. IPSC was found to make a smaller contribution to the total postsynaptic current recorded in interneurons as compared with pyramidal neurons in rat hippocampal field CA1.