In the teleost retina, cone horizontal cells contain a voltage-activated sustained calcium current, which has been proposed to be involved in visual processing. Recently, several studies have demonstrated that modulation of voltage-gated channels can occur through activation of metabotropic glutamate receptors (mGluRs). Because glutamate is the excitatory neurotransmitter in the vertebrate retina, we have used whole cell electrophysiological techniques to examine the effect of mGluR activation on the sustained voltage-gated calcium current found in isolated cone horizontal cells in the catfish retina. In pharmacological conditions that blocked voltage-gated sodium and potassium channels, as well as N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) and non-NMDA channels, application of L-glutamate or 1-aminocyclopentane-1,3-dicarboxylic acid (1S,3R-ACPD) to voltage-clamped cone horizontal cells acted to increase the amplitude of the calcium current, expand the activation range of the calcium current by 10 mV into the cell's physiological operating range, and shift the peak calcium current by -5 mV. To identify and characterize the mGluR subtypes found on catfish cone horizontal cells, agonists of group I, group II, or group III mGluRs were applied via perfusion. Group I and group III mGluR agonists mimicked the effect of L-glutamate or 1S,3R-ACPD, whereas group II mGluR agonists had no effect on L-type calcium current activity. Inhibition studies demonstrated that group I mGluR antagonists significantly blocked the modulatory effect of the group I mGluR agonist, (S)-3,5-dihydroxyphenylglycine. Similar results were obtained when the group III mGluR agonist, L-2-amino-4-phosphonobutyric acid, was applied in the presence of a group III mGluR antagonist. These results provide evidence for two groups of mGluR subtypes on catfish cone horizontal cells. Activation of these mGluRs is linked to modulation of the voltage-gated sustained calcium current.