Cyclic AMP appears to be involved in several excitatory actions of amines on neurones of the Limulus cardiac ganglion. Amines selectively increase levels of cardiac ganglion cyclic AMP with a magnitude and time course similar to that observed for amine-induced excitation of cardiac ganglion burst rate. With respect to either the physiological or biochemical effect, the apparent order of potency is octopamine greater than epinephrine approximately dopamine greater than norepinephrine. Elevation of cardiac ganglion cyclic AMP levels by octopamine or dopamine is dose-dependent and is potentiated by the phosphodiesterase inhibitor 3-isobutyl 1-methylxanthine (IBMX). Several pharmacological agents which influence cyclic nucleotide metabolism, including forskolin, IBMX and 8-substituted cyclic AMP analogues, have amine-like effects on the Limulus cardiac ganglion. These effects include increased burst rate of the isolated cardiac ganglion and decreased burst duration, interburst interval and number of spikes per burst in follower neurones. Forskolin and IBMX increase levels of cardiac ganglion cyclic AMP, and IBMX also increases cyclic GMP levels in this tissue. Amines, forskolin and IBMX have direct effects on follower neurones pharmacologically isolated from pacemaker cell input. Octopamine, forskolin and IBMX depolarize follower neurones, while dopamine hyperpolarizes these cells. Amines, forskolin and IBMX elicit burst-like potentials in follower neurones, and increase the size of evoked, unitary junction potentials recorded in cardiac muscle fibres. These pharmacological and biochemical data suggest that multiple, excitatory effects of biogenic amines on the Limulus cardiac ganglion are mediated by simultaneous increases in cyclic AMP at several loci within this neural network.