Elevation of intracellular free Ca(2+) is one of the key triggering signals for T-cell activation by antigen. A remarkable variety of Ca(2+) signals in T cells, ranging from infrequent spikes to sustained oscillations and plateaus, derives from the interactions of multiple Ca(2+) sources and sinks in the cell. Following engagement of the T cell receptor, intracellular channels (IP3 and ryanodine receptors) release Ca(2+) from intracellular stores, and by depleting the stores trigger prolonged Ca(2+) influx through store-operated Ca(2+) (CRAC) channels in the plasma membrane. The amplitude and dynamics of the Ca(2+) signal are shaped by several mechanisms, including K(+) channels and membrane potential, slow modulation of the plasma membrane Ca(2+)-ATPase, and mitochondria that buffer Ca(2+) and prevent the inactivation of CRAC channels. Ca(2+) signals have a number of downstream targets occurring on multiple time scales. At short times, Ca(2+) signals help to stabilize contacts between T cells and antigen-presenting cells through changes in motility and cytoskeletal reorganization. Over periods of minutes to hours, the amplitude, duration, and kinetic signature of Ca(2+) signals increase the efficiency and specificity of gene activation events. The complexity of Ca(2+) signals contains a wealth of information that may help to instruct lymphocytes to choose between alternate fates in response to antigenic stimulation.