The concentration of cytoplasmic free calcium ([Ca(2+)](cyt)) required to close higher plant plasmodesmata was investigated using corn (Zea mays L. cv. Black Mexican Sweet) suspension-culture cells. Physiological elevations of [Ca(2+)](cyt) were applied by cold treatment, and ion injection was also used to increase [Ca(2+)](cyt), by diffusion (for small increases) or by iontophoresis (for larger increases). The impact of such treatments on [Ca(2+)](cyt) was measured by ratiometric ion imaging. Intercellular communication during treatments was monitored using our recently developed electrophysiological technique that allows the electrical resistance of plasmodesmata and the plasma membranes of a sister-cell pair to be measured. A 4-fold increase in the calculated resistance of single plasmodesmata was observed in response to cold treatment that caused a 2-fold increase in average [Ca(2+)](cyt) (from 107 to 210 nM). In response to iontophoresis of Ca(2+), plasmodesmata were observed to go from "open" (low resistance) to "shut" (high resistance) and then back "open" within 10 s. Our results thus indicate that higher plant plasmodesmata respond quickly to physiological changes in [Ca(2+)](cyt).