Platelet activation is associated with an increase of cytosolic Ca(++) levels. The (1,4,5)IP(3) receptors [(1,4,5)IP(3)R] are known to mediate Ca(++) release from intracellular stores of many cell types. Currently there are at least 3 distinct subtypes of (1,4, 5)IP(3)R-type I, type II, and type III-with suggestions of distinct roles in Ca(++) elevation. Specific receptors for (1,3,4,5)IP(4) belonging to the GAP1 family have also been described though their involvement with Ca(++) regulation is controversial. In this study we report that platelets contain all 3 subtypes of (1,4,5)IP(3)R but in different amounts. Type I and type II receptors are predominant. In studies using highly purified platelet plasma (PM) and intracellular membranes (IM) we report a distinct localization of these receptors. The PM fractions were found to contain the type III (1,4,5)IP(3)R and GAP1(IP4BP) in contrast to IM, which contained type I (1,4,5)IP(3)R. The type II receptor exhibited a dual distribution. In studies examining the labeling of surface proteins with biotin in intact platelets only the type III (1,4,5)IP(3)R was significantly labeled. Immunogold studies of ultracryosections of human platelets showed significantly more labeling of the PM with the type III receptor antibodies than with type I receptor antibodies. Ca(++) flux studies were carried out with the PM to demonstrate in vitro function of inositol phosphate receptors. Ca(++) release activities were present with both (1,4,5)IP(3) and (1, 3,4,5)IP(4) (EC(50) = 1.3 and 0.8 micromol/L, respectively). Discrimination of the Ca(++)-releasing activities was demonstrated with cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP)-dependent protein kinase (cAMP-PK) specifically inhibiting (1,4,5)IP(3) but not (1,3,4, 5)IP(4)-induced Ca(++) flux. In experiments with both PM and intact platelets, the (1,4,5)IP(3)Rs but not GAP1(IP4BP) were found to be substrates of cAMP-PK and cGMP-PK. Thus the Ca(++) flux property of (1,3,4,5)IP(4) is insensitive to cAMP-PK. These studies suggest distinct roles for the (1,4,5)IP(3)R subtypes in Ca(++) movements, with the type III receptor and GAP1(IP4BP) associated with cation entry in human platelets and the type I receptor involved with Ca(++) release from intracellular stores.