Animal models of event-related potentials have recently been developed in rats in order to gain further understanding of the psychobiological variables which underlie these waveforms. In the present study, unanesthetized male Wistar rats, chronically implanted with electrodes, were utilized in order to: (i) compare event-related potentials recorded following the presentation of passively presented auditory stimuli from different neocortical, hippocampal and perihippocampal sites; (ii) test the effects of changes in stimulus probability and loudness on event-related potentials recorded from those sites; and (iii) record event-related potentials from rats who were actively performing in a tone discrimination task. The results of these studies showed that in all electrode sites (frontal cortex, parietal cortex, entorhinal cortex, hippocampus) a series of large amplitude potentials in the 10-200 ms latency range could be recorded in response to passively presented stimuli. Late positive potentials in the 300-400 ms range were only identified in recordings from the posterior cortex, entorhinal area, and dorsal hippocampus. Some of these late positive components were also found to be sensitive to changes in stimulus probability. A similar series of waves were detected in a paradigm where rats were required to actively discriminate between two tones; however, the morphologies of the waveforms were found to be more distinct. These studies suggest that rats may be good subjects for the exploration of the neural origins of event-related potentials. These studies demonstrate that rats performing in an auditory discrimination task can generate electrophysiological potentials which are time locked to the onset of a "cognitively relevant" stimulus (event-related potentials). These potentials can be recorded in limbic (hippocampus and amygdala) and cortical (parietal cortex) brain sites. The event-related potentials recorded in rats respond to changes in stimulus parameters in a similar fashion to those previously described in monkeys and human subjects. The identification of a rat model of event-related potentials provides an opportunity to further explore the neural origins of event-related potentials, to estimate the role of genetics in determining individual variation in waveforms, as well as to provide electrophysiological assays of the effects of various drugs on neurosensory and cognitive processing.