The temporal evolution of the plasma potential, Vp, in a pulsed dc magnetron plasma has been determined using the emissive probe technique. The discharge was operated in the 'asymmetric bi-polar' mode, in which the discharge voltage changes polarity during part of the pulse cycle. The probe measurements, with a time-resolution of 20 ns or better, were made along a line above the racetrack, normal to the plane of the cathode target, for a fixed frequency (100 kHz), duty cycle (50%), argon pressure (0.74 Pa) and discharge power (583 W). At all the measured positions, Vp was found to respond to the large and rapid changes in the cathode voltage, Vd, during the different phases of the pulse cycle, with Vp always more positive than Vd. At a typical substrate position (>80 mm from the target), Vp remains a few volts above the most positive surface in the discharge at all times. In the 'on' phase of the pulse, the measurements show a significant axial electric field is generated in the plasma, with the plasma potential dropping by a total of about 30 V over a distance of 70 mm, from the bulk plasma to a position close to the beginning of the cathode fall. This is consistent with measurements made in the dc magnetron. During the stable 'reverse' phase of the discharge, for distances greater than 18 mm from the target, the axial electric field is found to collapse, with Vp elevated uniformly to about 3 V above Vd. Between the target and this field-free region an ion sheath forms, and the current flowing to the target is still an ion current in this 'reverse' period. During the initial 200 ns of the voltage 'overshoot' phase (between 'on' and 'reverse' phases), Vd reached a potential of +290 V; however, close to the target, Vp was found to attain a much higher value, namely +378 V. Along the line of measurement, the axial electric field reverses in direction in this phase, and an electron current of up to 9 A flows to the target.The spatial and temporal measurements of Vp presented here confirm a simple picture of the evolution of Vp, predicted from previously made time-resolved mass spectroscopic measurements of the ionic component in the pulsed magnetron. This paper describes the development and characteristics of the emissive probe technique for such fast measurements, together with implications for the form of the measured transient potential profiles on the operation of the magnetron discharge. In particular, it addresses the charged particle drifts and the potential for sputtering of the walls and the anode by ion impact.