Conventional intracellular microelectrodes and injection of biocytin were used to study the actions of IL-1β and IL-6 on electrical and synaptic behavior in morphologically identified guinea pig small intestinal submucous neurons. Exposure to nanomolar concentrations of either IL-1β or IL-6 stimulated neuronal excitability. The excitatory action consisted of depolarization of the membrane potential, decreased membrane conductance, and increased discharge of action potentials. Excitatory action of IL-1β was suppressed by the natural IL-1β human receptor antagonist. Electrical stimulation of sympathetic postganglionic axons evoked inhibitory postsynaptic potentials (IPSPs), and stimulation of cholinergic axons evoked nicotinic fast excitatory postsynaptic potentials (EPSPs). Both kinds of synaptic potentials occurred in neurons with uniaxonal morphology believed to be secretomotor neurons. Either IL-1β or IL-6 suppressed the noradrenergic IPSPs and the fast EPSPs, and the two acted synergistically when applied in combination. Suppression of the IPSP resulted from presynaptic inhibition of the release of norepinephrine from sympathetic nerves. The results suggest that the presence of either or both inflammatory cytokines will release the sympathetic brake from secretomotor neurons to the intestinal crypts and from nicotinic synapses in the integrative microcircuits, where norepinephrine is known to have a presynaptic inhibitory action. This, in concert with excitation of secretomotor neurons, may lead to neurogenic secretory diarrhea.