Resting potentials, action potentials, and miniature end-plate potentials have been recorded from isolated phrenic-diaphragm preparations of the rat during and after irradiation with X-rays. Relatively small doses of a few thousand roentgens have no obvious effect on the preparation for many hours but larger doses, of the order of 70 to 150 kr irreversibly block neuromuscular transmission. The block is not accompanied by any change in the size of action potentials, resting potentials, membrane constants or miniature potentials recorded in the muscle with intracellular electrodes, or in the size of action potentials recorded in the nerve. Records made at the motor end-plate show that the cause of the block is a 'presynaptic' failure of impulse propagation in the intramuscular part of the nerve. The time course of the failure depends largely on the rate at which X-rays are delivered to the preparation: at a high dose-rate (70 kr/min) the block develops rapidly and is accompanied by an increase in the frequency of miniature potentials; at a low dose-rate (7 kr/min) larger doses are required, the latency is longer and the miniature potentials continue at a normal frequency. The sequence in which different parts of the muscle become blocked, the abrupt nature of the failure at an individual motor end-plate, and the increase in frequency of the miniature potentials together suggest that the action of X-rays is to block conduction in the nerve near its terminals, possibly by depolarizing points where the axons branch and the safety factor for the propagation of impulses is low. The results reported in this paper do not support the hypotheses that small doses of X-rays at a high or a low dose-rate lead to an initial 'enhancement' of function or that they produce immediate and reversible changes in the permeability of excitable membranes to ions.