Because Ca(2+) plays diverse roles in intracellular signaling in neurons, several types of calcium channels are employed to control Ca(2+) influx in these cells. Our experiments focus on resolving the paradox of why whole-cell current has not been observed under typical recording conditions for one type of calcium channel that is highly expressed in frog sympathetic neurons. These channels, referred to as E(f)-channels, are present in the membrane at a density greater than the channels that carry approximately 90% of whole-cell current in low Ba(2+); but, E(f)-current has not been detected in low Ba(2+). Using Ca(2+) instead of Ba(2+) as the charge carrier, we recorded a possible E-type current in frog sympathetic neurons. The current was resistant to specific blockers of N-, L-, and P/Q-type calcium channels but was more sensitive to Ni(2+) block than was N- or L-current. Current amplitude in Ca(2+) is slightly greater than that in Ba(2+). In 3 mM Ca(2+), the current contributed approximately 12% of total current at peak voltage and increased at voltages more hyperpolarized to the peak, reaching approximately 40% at -30 mV, where whole-cell current starts to activate. The presence of E(f)-current in 3 mM Ca(2+) suggests a potential role for E(f)-channels in regulating calcium influx into sympathetic neurons.