Mibefradil is a novel Ca(2+) antagonist which blocks both high-voltage activated and low voltage-activated Ca(2+) channels. Although L-type Ca(2+) channel block was demonstrated in functional experiments its molecular interaction with the channel has not yet been studied. We therefore investigated the binding of [(3)H]-mibefradil and a series of mibefradil analogues to L-type Ca(2+) channels in different tissues. [(3)H]-Mibefradil labelled a single class of high affinity sites on skeletal muscle L-type Ca(2+) channels (K(D) of 2.5+/-0.4 nM, B(max)=56.4+/-2.3 pmol mg(-1) of protein). Mibefradil (and a series of analogues) partially inhibited (+)-[(3)H]-isradipine binding to skeletal muscle membranes but stimulated binding to brain L-type Ca(2+) channels and alpha1C-subunits expressed in tsA201 cells indicating a tissue-specific, non-competitive interaction between the dihydropyridine and mibefradil binding domain. [(3)H]-Mibefradil also labelled a heterogenous population of high affinity sites in rabbit brain which was inhibited by a series of nonspecific Ca(2+) and Na(+)-channel blockers. Mibefradil and its analogue RO40-6040 had high affinity for neuronal voltage-gated Na(+)-channels as confirmed in binding (apparent K(i) values of 17 and 1.0 nM, respectively) and functional experiments (40% use-dependent inhibition of Na(+)-channel current by 1 microM mibefradil in GH3 cells). Our data demonstrate that mibefradil binds to voltage-gated L-type Ca(2+) channels with very high affinity and is also a potent blocker of voltage-gated neuronal Na(+)-channels. More lipophilic mibefradil analogues may possess neuroprotective properties like other nonselective Ca(2+)-/Na(+)-channel blockers.