The auxiliary beta subunit is essential for functional expression of high voltage-activated Ca2+ channels. This effect is partly mediated by a facilitation of the intracellular trafficking of alpha1 subunit toward the plasma membrane. Here, we demonstrate that the I-II loop of the alpha1 subunit contains an endoplasmic reticulum (ER) retention signal that severely restricts the plasma membrane incorporation of alpha1 subunit. Coimmunolabeling reveals that the I-II loop restricts expression of a chimera CD8-I-II protein to the ER. The beta subunit reverses the inhibition imposed by the retention signal. Extensive deletion of this retention signal in full-length alpha1 subunit facilitates the cell surface expression of the channel in the absence of beta subunit. Our data suggest that the beta subunit favors Ca2+ channel plasma membrane expression by inhibiting an expression brake contained in beta-binding alpha1 sequences.