Oscillographic measurement and time-resolved photographic recording have been used to examine the breakdown of rod/rod, rod/sphere and rod/plane gaps with long-duration negative impulse potentials of up to 1 MV crest. As in the positive discharge, the breakdown process is found often to cease for considerable periods on the impulse wave tail. Breakdown then occurs after a long time lag for gaps composed of rod cathodes and rod or small sphere anodes. Where the anode is large, no long time lags are observed. Measurement of the variation of breakdown strength with time during the impulse duration has been made by the superimposition of a second impulse upon the first, following a controllable delay. The results show a minimum probability of breakdown initiation after 15 $\mu $s of the applied impulse, and a subsequent slow recovery. It is suggested that this confirms the effect of the initial corona phase in causing space charge fouling of the gap. The breakdown voltage of rod/rod gaps is shown to decrease by up to 30% when the impulse wave front is reduced from 0.50 to 0.06 $\mu $s. The breakdown strength with negative impulses is thus less than with positive impulses for wave fronts faster than 0.20 $\mu $s. For the wave form 0.50/2000 $\mu $s, the breakdown voltage is found to depend more critically upon the dimensions of the earthed electrode than is the case with positive impulses. The breakdown voltage for a rod/25 cm sphere gap is 73% greater than for a rod/rod gap, yet also 15% greater than for a rod/plane gap. For gap lengths between 25 and 65 cm, the breakdown voltage of the rod/plane gap is found to increase with decreasing wave front duration. The variation of the negative impulse corona with rate of potential rise and with crest voltage is examined photographically. Many of the observed variations of breakdown voltage and time-lag characteristics can be accounted for in terms of the impulse corona phase. The time-resolved photography of the negative discharge over a wide range of conditions suggests that in the range of gap lengths investigated the formation of the positive leader rather than the negative leader is the necessary forerunner of sparkover.