The purpose of this study was to determine the synaptic actions of the bursting peptidergic neuron R15 in Aplysia. R15 is known to be excited by the neuroendocrine bag cells, which trigger egg laying. In the two companion papers, we show that R15 mediates some of the effects of the bag cells on respiratory and reproductive organs. In this paper, we demonstrate that R15 excites L7, a multimodal motoneuron located in the abdominal ganglion. Although L7 excites several types of muscle fibers as well as neurons, the excitation of L7 by R15 is probably strong enough to cause contraction only of the sheath muscle of the pleuroabdominal connectives, which has an exceptionally low threshold for activation. The excitatory actions of R15 on L7, which desensitize profoundly, appear to be mediated by R15 alpha 1 peptide. The synaptic action of R15 on L7 and on the respiratory pumping system (Alevizos et al., 1991a) can be fully expressed only if R15 is first silenced for 2 hr by injection of hyperpolarizing current. A similar protocol for eliminating desensitization may prove to be generally useful for revealing the synaptic actions of other spontaneously active neurons that have rapidly desensitizing postsynaptic actions.