Cortical neurons in-vivo operate in a continuum of overall conductance states, depending on the average level of background synaptic input throughout the dendritic tree. We compare how variability, or fluctuations, in this input affects the statistics of the resulting 'spontaneous' or 'background' firing activity, between two extremes of the mean input corresponding to a low-conductance (LC) and a high-conductance (HC) state. In the HC state, we show that both firing rate and regularity increase with increasing variability. In the LC state, firing rate also increases with input variability, but in contrast to the HC state, firing regularity first decreases and then increases with an increase in the variability. At high levels of input variability, firing regularity in both states converge to similar values.