Electrophysiological and pharmacological properties of glycine receptors were characterized in hippocampal organotypic slice cultures. In the presence of ionotropic glutamate and GABAB receptor antagonists, pressure-application of glycine onto CA3 pyramidal cells induced a current associated with increased chloride conductance, which was inhibited by strychnine. Similar chloride currents could also be induced with β-alanine or taurine. Whole-cell glycine responses were significantly greater in CA3 pyramidal cells than in CA1 pyramidal cells and dentate granule cells, while responses to GABA were similar among these three cell types. Although these results demonstrate the presence of functional glycine receptors in the hippocampus, no evidence for their activation during synaptic stimulation was found. Gabazine, a selective GABAA receptor antagonist, totally blocked evoked IPSCs in CA3 pyramidal cells. Glycine receptor activation is not dependent on transporter-controlled levels of extracellular glycine, as no chloride current was observed in response to sarcosine, an inhibitor of glycine transporters. In contrast, application of guanidinoethanesulfonic acid, an uptake inhibitor of β-alanine and taurine, induced strychnine-sensitive chloride current in the presence of gabazine. These data indicate that modulation of transporters for the endogenous amino acids, β-alanine and taurine, can regulate tonic activation of glycine receptors, which may function in maintenance of inhibitory tone in the hippocampus.