We review the history of the concepts of the magnetospheric cold-ion trough and hot-electron trough and conclude that the two regions are actually essentially the same. The magnetospheric trough may be viewed as a temporal state in the evolution of convecting flux tubes. These flux tubes are in contact with the earth’s upper atmosphere, which acts both as a sink for precipitating hot plasma-sheet electrons and as a source for the cold ionospheric plasma, leading to progressive depletion of the plasma sheet and refilling with cold plasma. Geosynchronous plasma observations show that the rate of loss of plasma-sheet electron energy density is commensurate with the precipitating electron flux at the low-latitude edge of the diffuse aurorae. The rate at which geosynchronous flux tubes fill with cold ionospheric plasma is found to be consistent with previous estimates of early-time refilling. Geosynchronous observations further indicate that both Coulomb collisions and wave-particle effects probably play a role in trapping ionospheric material in the magnetosphere.