The effect of betaxolol on the specific binding of [3H]diltiazem and [3H]nitrendipine to rat cortical membranes was examined. Betaxolol inhibited specific [3H]diltiazem and [3H]nitrendipine binding with IC50 values of 19.7 and 46.3 microM, respectively. The effect of betaxolol on L-type Ca2+ channels showed little stereospecificity, since similar inhibitions of radioligand binding were observed with both racemic betaxolol and L-betaxolol. The dissociation kinetics of [3H]diltiazem were unaffected by 30 microM betaxolol, whereas it increased the [3H]nitrendipine dissociation rate, thus suggesting that betaxolol directly interacts with the benzothiazepine binding site and allosterically modulates the dihydropyridine binding site. Carteolol, propranolol and timolol were also found to inhibit both specific [3H]diltiazem and [3H]nitrendipine binding to rat cortical membranes, but with less potency than betaxolol. The ability of betaxolol to interact with L-type Ca2+ channels may have a role in its therapeutic effects in the management of systemic hypertension and in reducing neuronal death as occurring in glaucoma.