Some important features of the intracellularly recorded electrical control activity of rabbit jejunal smooth muscle and its temperature dependence are reported in this study. This activity consisted of repetitive 18-mV depolarizations (control potentials (CP) or slow waves), which at 37degreesC lasted 2 s and had a frequency of 18/min and arose from a membrane potential of --55 mV. In some cells periods between CP's exhibited "diastolic" progressive depolarizations (intercontrol-potential depolarization), which may be the trigger of the CP in driving cells. While CP was usually monophasic, some cells persistently exhibited a notch early in the plateau phase. We suggest that CP consists of two components, an "initial depolarization" and a "secondary depolarization," which are usually fused together to give a monophasic potential. Cooling reduced CP frequency and prolonged its duration and caused more cells to show notching. While amplitude and rate of CP initial depolarization had low Q10's, duration and rates of onset and offset of the secondary depolarization had higher Q10's. Thus, the process responsible for secondary depolarization is more sensitive to temperature thant that underlying initial depolarization of the CP.