A large-scale computer model was constructed to gain insight into the structural basis for the generation of fast synchronous rhythms (20-60 Hz) in the thalamocortical system. The model consisted of 65,000 spiking neurons organized topographically to represent sectors of a primary and secondary area of mammalian visual cortex, and two associated regions of the dorsal thalamus and the thalamic reticular nucleus. Cortical neurons, both excitatory and inhibitory, were organized in supragranular layers, infraganular layers and layer IV. Reciprocal intra- and interlaminar, interareal, thalamocortical, corticothalamic and thalamoreticular connections were set up based on known anatomical constraints. Simulations of neuronal responses to visual input revealed sporadic epochs of synchronous oscillations involving all levels of the model, similar to the fast rhythms recorded in vivo. By systematically modifying physiological and structural parameters in the model, specific network properties were found to play a major role in the generation of this rhythmic activity. For example, fast synchronous rhythms could be sustained autonomously by lateral and interlaminar interactions within and among local cortical circuits. In addition, these oscillations were propagated to the thalamus and amplified by corticothalamocortical loops, including the thalamic reticular complex. Finally, synchronous oscillations were differentially affected by lesioning forward and backward interareal connections.