1. Ca2+ signaling elicited by ionotropic alpha-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA)/kainate (iGluR) and metabotropic (mGluR) glutamate receptor agonists was studied in the somatic and dendritic regions of cultured cerebellar Purkinje neurons using microscopic video imaging and the Ca2+ sensitive dye fura-2. 2. iGluR and mGluR agonists and K+ depolarization applied by brief micropressure pulses evoked Ca2+ signals in both the somatic and dendritic regions of all Purkinje neurons studied. The Ca2+ signals were generated simultaneously in both cellular regions. The Ca+ signals to these stimulants were similar in general form, consisting of an initial peak and slow recovery phase, but differed in details of amplitude, time course, and complexity. 3. Removal of extracellular Ca2+ abolished the Ca2+ signal to the iGluR agonist AMPA, indicating that Ca2+ influx was essential to the generation of Ca2+ signals by iGluR agonists. The Ca2+ channel blocker lanthanum almost completely eliminated the Ca2+ signals to AMPA, indicating that Ca2+ influx through voltage-sensitive Ca2+ channels was the main pathway for Ca2+ influx. Omega-agatoxin IVA, a P-type Ca2+ channel blocker, significantly reduced the Ca2+ signals to AMPA suggesting that Ca2+ influx was predominately through P-type Ca2+ channels. 4. Pharmacological manipulation of intracellular Ca2+ stores significantly reduced the Ca2+ signals to AMPA, indicating that release of Ca2+ from intracellular Ca2+ stores also plays a prominent role in the generation of the Ca2+ signals to iGluR agonists. These manipulations included blocking Ca2+ release from intracellular stores with dantrolene, an antagonist at the ryanodine receptor that controls Ca2+ release from one pool of intracellular Ca2+ stores, and depletion of intracellular Ca2+ stores with caffeine or ryanodine. 5. Ca2+ influx through voltage-sensitive Ca2+ channels did not appear to be involved in the Ca2+ signals to mGluR activation, because neither lanthanum nor omega-agatoxin IVA altered Ca2+ signals to mGluR agonists. Manipulation of intracellular stores with Ca(2+)-ATPase inhibitors and dantrolene significantly reduced the Ca2+ signal to mGluR agonists, indicating that Ca2+ signals were derived from both the inositol trisphosphate (IP3) and the ryanodine receptor-controlled intracellular Ca2+ stores. 6. Ca2+ signals to the iGluR agonist AMPA correlated temporally with the prolonged, multiphasic membrane responses elicited by similar agonist application in parallel electrophysiological studies. Pharmacological manipulation of Ca2+ influx and release of Ca2+ from intracellular stores significantly influenced components of the membrane response to AMPA, indicating a potential modulator or mediator role for Ca2+ in the membrane response to iGluR activation.