We studied the effects of the novel Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchange inhibitor KB-R7943, 2-[2-[4-(4-nitrobenzyloxy)phenyl]ethyl]isothiourea methanesulphonate, on the native nicotinic receptors present at the bovine adrenal chromaffin cells, as well as on rat brain alpha(3)beta(4) and alpha(7) nicotinic acetylcholine receptors (AChRs) expressed in Xenopus oocytes. As expected, KB-R7943 blocked the Na(+)-gradient dependent (45)Ca(2+) uptake into chromaffin cells (IC(50) of 5.5 microM); but in addition, the compound also inhibited the (45)Ca(2+) entry and the increase of cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration, [Ca(2+)](c), stimulated by 5 s pulses of ACh (IC(50) of 6.5 and 1.7 microM, respectively). In oocytes expressing alpha(3)beta(4) and alpha(7) nicotinic AChRs, voltage-clamped at -60 mV, inward currents elicited by 1 s pulses of 100 microM ACh (I(ACh)) were blocked by KB-R7943 with an IC(50) of 0.4 microM and a Hill coefficient of 0.9. Blockade of alpha(3)beta(4) currents by KB-R7943 was noncompetitive; moreover, the blocker (0.3 microM) became more active as the ACh concentration increased (34 versus 66% blockade at 30 microM and 1 mM ACh, respectively). Inhibition of alpha(3)beta(4) currents by 0.3 microM KB-R7943 was more pronounced at hyperpolarized potentials. If given within the ACh pulse (10 microM), the inhibition amounted to 33, 64 and 80% in oocytes voltage-clamped at -40, -60 and -100 mV, respectively. The onset of blockade was faster and the recovery slower at -100 mV; the reverse was true at -40 mV. In conclusion, KB-R7943 is a potent blocker of nicotinic AChRs; moreover, it displays many features of an open-channel blocker at the rat brain alpha(3)beta(4) AChR. These results should be considered when KB-R7943 is to be used to study Ca(2+) homeostasis in cells expressing nicotinic AChRs and the Na(+)/Ca(2+) exchanger.