We examined the role of nucleus isthmi in enhancing intracellular calcium concentrations in retinotectal fibers in the frog optic tectum in vitro. The intracellular calcium levels were measured using the fluorescent calcium-sensitive dye, Calcium Green-1 3000 mw dextran conjugate (CG-1), which was injected into one optic nerve. Electrical stimulation of the labeled optic nerve alone increased tectal CG-1 fluorescence whereas electrical stimulation of nucleus isthmi alone had no effect on CG-1 fluorescence. Electrical stimulation of the nucleus isthmi ipsilateral to the labeled tectum, followed by electrical stimulation to the optic nerve can enhance calcium uptake more than a double pulse stimulation of the optic nerve alone. Maximum enhancement of the calcium signal by nucleus isthmi occurs when optic nerve stimulation follows the ipsilateral nucleus isthmi stimulation by 10 ms. These results suggest that nucleus isthmi input can facilitate retinotectal neurotransmission, and the mechanism could be used to allow the frog to attend to a single prey stimulus in an environment of several prey stimuli.