Recently, a family of G-protein-coupled receptors named endothelial differentiation gene (Edg) receptor family has been identified, which are specifically activated by the two serum lipids, sphingosine-1-phosphate and lysophosphatidic acid. Sphingosine-1-phosphate can also act intracellularly to release Ca2+ from intracellular stores. Since in several cell types, G-protein-coupled lysophosphatidic acid or sphingosine-1-phosphate receptors mobilize Ca2+ in the absence of a measurable phospholipase C stimulation, it was analysed here whether intracellular sphingosine-1-phosphate production was the signalling mechanism used by extracellular sphingosine-1-phosphate for mobilization of stored Ca2+. Sphingosine-1-phosphate and the low affinity sphingosine-1-phosphate receptor agonist, sphingosylphosphorylcholine, induced a rapid, transient and nearly complete pertussis toxin-sensitive Ca2+ mobilization in human embryonic kidney (HEK-293) cells. The G-protein-coupled sphingosine-1-phosphate receptors, Edg-1, Edg-3 and Edg-5, were found to be endogenously expressed in these cells. Most interestingly, sphingosine-1-phosphate and sphingosylphosphorylcholine did not induce a measurable production of inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate or accumulation of inositol phosphates. Instead, sphingosine-1-phosphate and sphingosylphosphorylcholine induced a rapid and transient increase in production of intracellular sphingosine-1-phosphate with a maximum of about 1.4-fold at 30 s. Stimulation of sphingosine-1-phosphate formation by sphingosine-1-phosphate and sphingosylphosphorylcholine was fully blocked by pertussis toxin, indicating that extracellular sphingosine-1-phosphate via endogenously expressed G(i)-coupled receptors induces a stimulation of intracellular sphingosine-1-phosphate production. As sphingosine-1-phosphate- and sphingosylphosphorylcholine-induced increases in intracellular Ca2+ were blunted by sphingosine kinase inhibitors, this sphingosine-1-phosphate production appears to mediate Ca2+ signalling by extracellular sphingosine-1-phosphate and sphingosylphosphorylcholine in HEK-293 cells.