Whole cell voltage clamp recording was used to investigate neurotransmitter release onto neurones in deep and superficial layers of rat entorhinal cortex in vitro. Activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors with the agonist (1S,3R,4S)-1-aminocyclopentane-1,2,4-tricarboxylic acid depressed spontaneous release of the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in layer V, but not in layer II. Depression of transmitter release did not persist in the presence of the sodium channel blocker tetrodotoxin. It seems likely that activation of presynaptic glutamate heteroreceptors inhibits action potential dependent release of neurotransmitter via a direct action at the presynaptic terminal. We confirmed that depression of inhibitory neurotransmission in layer V was mediated by group III metabotropic glutamate receptors using a specific group III antagonist, (RS)-cyclopropyl-4-phosphonophenylglycine. Application of the antagonist alone did not alter the frequency of spontaneous neurotransmitter release, suggesting that the metabotropic glutamate receptor is not tonically active. In layer V of the entorhinal cortex, activation of presynaptic metabotropic glutamate receptors enhances spontaneous glutamate release, and inhibits spontaneous release of GABA. These effects may combine to increase random action potential firing in this layer, thereby reducing its capacity for synchrony generation. Our results are consistent with an anticonvulsant action for group III metabotropic glutamate receptors in the entorhinal cortex.