The properties of spontaneous and miniature (m) AMPA receptor-mediated excitatory postsynaptic currents (EPSCs) were studied in rat neocortical layer II/III fast spiking interneurons. Under optimal recording conditions, averaged mEPSCs had a 10-90% rise time of about 0.3 ms. The decay of averaged mEPSCs was double exponential with time constants of about 1 and 4 ms. Kinetics were observed to slow as series resistance increased. The amplitudes of mEPSCs were much smaller at + 50 mV than at - 50 mV indicating that the currents were inwardly rectifying. These results suggest that synaptic AMPA receptors on neocortical inhibitory interneurons have a deactivation time constant less than 1 ms which largely determines the decay of the synaptic currents. The receptors appear to lack GluR-2 subunits and may be Ca2+ permeable.