- Regular spiking (RS) and intrinsically bursting (IB) neurons show distinct differences in their inhibitory responses. Under various conditions, the synaptic responses of RS cells display marked inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs), whereas the responses of most IB cells do not (Silva et al: Soc Neurosci Abstr 14:883, 1988; Chagnac-Amitai and Connors: J Neurophysiol 61:747, 62:1149, 1989; Connors and Gutnick: TINS 13:99, 1990). This investigation is designed to determine if differences in the inhibitory responses of RS versus IB cells are reflected in differences in the concentration of inhibitory synapses onto their somata. RS and IB neurons in rat somatosensory cortex were identified by using intracellular recording and labeling, examined with the light microscope, and then serial thin-sectioned prior to examination with the electron microscope. Axonal terminals presynaptic to their somata and proximal dendrites were identified and classified according to criteria described by Peters and coworkers (Peters et al: J Neurocytol 19:584, 1990; Peters and Harriman: J Neurocytol 19:154, 1990; 21:679, 1992). The locations of these boutons were displayed on the surfaces of 3-D reconstructions of the somata and proximal dendrites. The reconstructions were produced directly from the serial thin sections by using a novel, electron microscopic, image-processing computer resource. Our analysis showed no significant difference in the types and concentration of boutons presynaptic to the cell bodies and proximal dendrites of intrinsically bursting versus regular spiking neurons. We conclude that the differences observed in the inhibitory responses of intrinsically bursting versus regular spiking neurons cannot be explained by differences in the concentrations of synapses onto their somata.