Voltage-sensitive dye (VSD) imaging became a powerful tool to detect neural activity in the enteric nervous system, including its routine use in submucous neurons in freshly dissected human tissue. However, VSD imaging of human myenteric neurons remained a challenge because of limited visibility of the ganglia and dye accessibility. We describe a protocol to apply VSD for recordings of human myenteric neurons in freshly dissected tissue and myenteric neurons in primary cultures. VSD imaging of guinea-pig myenteric neurons was used for reference. Electrical stimulation of interganglionic fiber tracts and exogenous application of nicotine or elevated KCl solution was used to evoke action potentials. Bath application of the VSDs Annine-6Plus, Di-4-ANEPPS, Di-8-ANEPPQ Di-4-ANEPPDHQ or Di-8-ANEPPS revealed no neural signals in human tissue although most of these VSD worked in guinea-pig tissue. Unlike methylene blue and FM1-43, 4-Di-2-ASP did not influence spike discharge and was used in human tissue to visualize myenteric ganglia as a prerequisite for targeted intraganglionic VSD application. Of all VSDs, only intraganglionic injection of Di-8-ANEPPS by a volume controlled injector revealed neuronal signals in human tissue. Signal-to-noise ratio increased by addition of dipicrylamine to Di-8-ANEPPS (0.98 +/- 0.16 vs. 2.4 +/- 0.62). Establishing VSD imaging in primary cultures of human myenteric neurons led to a further improvement of signal-to-noise ratio. This allowed us to routinely record spike discharge after nicotine application. The described protocol enabled reliable VSD recordings from human myenteric neurons but may also be relevant for the use of other fluorescent dyes in human tissues. (C) 2010 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.