1. Membrane photocurrents were recorded from outer segments of isolated retinal rods of pigeons (Columba livia), the first such measurements on the photoreceptors of a bird. The amplitude of the response to 20 ms flashes of narrow wavelength bands of light increases linearly with intensity at low photon fluxes and saturates at higher intensities. The maximum (saturating) photocurrent observed in forty-nine rod cells was 50 pA. Larger responses with less variability in the intensity for half-maximal responses were observed when the physiological saline contained 20 mM bicarbonate (in addition to Hepes buffer). 2. The dependence of peak amplitude on intensity is well fitted by an exponential function; it is usually less well fitted by the Michaelis-Menten (Naka-Rushton) equation. 3. In the presence of bicarbonate, the average sensitivity of pigeon rods to dim flashes was 0.56 pA photon-1 microns -2. The effective collecting area per photon was 1.8 microns 2. About 83 +/- 26 (mean +/- S.D.) photoisomerizations were required for a half-saturating response. 4. The response kinetics of rods to dim flashes can be reasonably well described by a series of four to five either Poisson or independent filters. The time to peak, measured from the mid-point of a 20 ms flash, was 319 +/- 83 ms (mean +/- S.D.). The integration time of the response was 851 +/- 86 ms (mean +/- S.D.) with bicarbonate present and 572 +/- 126 ms in the absence of bicarbonate. The responses of pigeon rods appear to be slower than those of mammals at the same temperature. The fraction of current suppressed by a single photoisomerization is smaller in pigeon than in mammalian rods by a factor of at least two. 5. The spectral sensitivity function was measured between 680 and 330 nm. The maximum at about 505 nm (range 497-508 nm) corresponds to the alpha-band of a vertebrate rhodopsin and agrees with previous behavioural measurements of scotopic sensitivity of pigeons as well as the absorption spectrum of extracts of pigeon rhodopsin. There was no pronounced beta-band in the near-ultraviolet wavelengths.