The effect has been studied of various media, hormones and of amino acids on the membrane potential of rat hepatoma cells in culture measured by microelectrode impalement. Cells in Eagle's minimal essential medium plus 5% serum had a value which varied daily from about 5–8 mV, inside negative. The membrane potential of rat hepatocytes was measured to be 8.7 ± 0.2mV, inside negative. The membrane potential of the hepatoma cells was decreased by insulin and increased by glucagon. Membrane potential was unaffected by change of medium to Hanks' or Earle's balanced salt solutions or deprivation of serum. It was, however, reduced in cells in phosphate-buffered saline and by reduction of pH. The former effect was shown to be due to the higher [Na+] of phosphat-buffered saline as opposed to the other media. Addition of alanine, glycine, serine, proline and methylaminoisobutyrate all reduced membrane potential by 2–3 mV. Smaller decreases were seen with methionine, leucine and phenylalanine, but none with glutamine, threonine, BCH (2-aminonorborane-2-carboxylic acid) and D-alanine. The results are compared with the effects of similar conditions on aminoisobutyrate uptake. Whilst there was a correlation under some conditions there was not under others. It is concluded that for the hepatoma cells factors additional to the membrane potential must exert some influence on the capacity for amino acid transport.

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