Beta frequency oscillations (10-35 Hz) in motor regions of cerebral cortex play an important role in stabilising and suppressing unwanted movements, and become intensified during the pathological akinesia of Parkinson's Disease. We have used a cortical slice preparation of rat brain, combined with concurrent intracellular and field recordings from the primary motor cortex (M1), to explore the cellular basis of the persistent beta frequency (27-30 Hz) oscillations manifest in local field potentials (LFP) in layers II and V of M1 produced by continuous perfusion of kainic acid (100 nM) and carbachol (5 µM). Spontaneous depolarizing GABA-ergic IPSPs in layer V cells, intracellularly dialyzed with KCl and IEM1460 (to block glutamatergic EPSCs), were recorded at -80 mV. IPSPs showed a highly significant (P< 0.01) beta frequency component, which was highly significantly coherent with both the Layer II and V LFP oscillation (which were in antiphase to each other). Both IPSPs and the LFP beta oscillations were abolished by the GABAA antagonist bicuculline. Layer V cells at rest fired spontaneous action potentials at sub-beta frequencies (mean of 7.1+1.2 Hz; n = 27) which were phase-locked to the layer V LFP beta oscillation, preceding the peak of the LFP beta oscillation by some 20 ms. We propose that M1 beta oscillations, in common with other oscillations in other brain regions, can arise from synchronous hyperpolarization of pyramidal cells driven by synaptic inputs from a GABA-ergic interneuronal network (or networks) entrained by recurrent excitation derived from pyramidal cells. This mechanism plays an important role in both the physiology and pathophysiology of control of voluntary movement generation.