Six patients with congenital myotonia and 4 patients with myotonic dystrophy have been examined clinically before and after the administration of N-propyl-ajmalin, an alkaloid frequently used as a cardiac antiarrhythmic drug. All patients but one reported a good to moderate improvement of their myotonic muscle stiffness. This was verified by measuring the time the patients needed to ascend a flight of stairs and by recording the speed of opening the hand. The amplitude of the compound muscle action potential decreased during repetitive nerve stimulation in myotonic patients. This decrease was not influenced by N-propyl-ajmalin. It seems to be due to the increased after-depolarization observed in myotonic fibres which causes partial inactivation of the Na-carrying system. From one patient a muscle biopsy was taken and intracellular potentials were measured with a microelectrode. Almost all muscle cells investigated showed myotonic activity which was completely abolished by addition of 10(-5) g/ml N-propyl-ajmalin to the bathing fluid. The development and duration of "warm-up" is illustrated and a possible electrophysiological basis is discussed.