1. The regulation of the L-type Ca(2+) current (I(Ca)) by intracellular cGMP was investigated in human atrial myocytes using the whole-cell patch-clamp technique. 2. Intracellular application of 0.5 microM cGMP produced a strong stimulation of basal I(Ca) (+64 +/- 5 %, n = 60), whereas a 10-fold higher cGMP concentration induced a 2-fold smaller increase (+36 +/- 8 %, n = 35). 3. The biphasic response of I(Ca) to cGMP was not mimicked by the cGMP-dependent protein kinase (PKG) activator 8-bromoguanosine 3',5' cyclic monophosphate (8-bromo-cGMP, 0.5 or 5 microM), and was not affected by the PKG inhibitor KT 5823 (100 nM). 4. In contrast, cGMP stimulation of I(Ca) was abolished by intracellular perfusion with PKI (10 microM), a selective inhibitor of the cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA). 5. Selective inhibition of the cGMP-inhibited phosphodiesterase (PDE3) by extracellular cilostamide (100 nM) strongly enhanced basal I(Ca) in control conditions (+78 +/- 13 %, n = 7) but had only a marginal effect in the presence of intracellular cGMP (+22 +/- 7 % in addition to 0.5 microM cGMP, n = 11; +20 +/- 22 % in addition to 5 microM cGMP, n = 7). 6. Application of erythro-9-[2-hydroxy-3-nonyl]adenine (EHNA, 30 microM), a selective inhibitor of the cGMP-stimulated phosphodiesterase (PDE2), fully reversed the secondary inhibitory effect of 5 microM cGMP on I(Ca) (+99 +/- 16 % stimulation, n = 7). 7. Altogether, these data indicate that intracellular cGMP regulates basal I(Ca) in human atrial myocytes in a similar manner to NO donors. The effect of cGMP involves modulation of the cAMP level and PKA activity via opposite actions of the nucleotide on PDE2 and PDE3.