The current phase of axon physiology began with the invention of the voltage clamp by Cole (1949) and its use by Hodgkin & Huxley (1952d) to produce an astonishingly complete analysis of the ionic permeabilities that are responsible for the action potential. Their description did notcontain much in the way of molecular detail, and left open such questions as whether ions cross the membrane by way of pores or carriers, and the nature of the ‘gating‘ processes that increase ordecrease ion permeability in response to changes of the membrane potential. In the last few years our picture of the ionicchannels has grown considerably more tangible, though it still falls far short of a detailed molecular description. This article describes this sharpened picture and reviews the evidence for it. The viewpoint expressed is a very personal one, andno attempt has been made to review the literature of axonology comprehensively.