In many cell types, asynchronous or synchronous oscillations in the concentration of intracellular free calcium occur in adjacent cells that are coupled by gap junctions. Such oscillations are believed to underlie oscillatory intercellular calcium waves in some cell types, and thus it is important to understand how they occur and are modified by intercellular coupling. Using a previous model of intracellular calcium oscillations in pancreatic acinar cells, this article explores the effects of coupling two cells with a simple linear diffusion term. Depending on the concentration of a signal molecule, inositol (1,4,5)-trisphosphate, coupling two identical cells by diffusion can give rise to synchronized in-phase oscillations, as well as different-amplitude in-phase oscillations and same-amplitude antiphase oscillations. Coupling two nonidentical cells leads to more complex behaviors such as cascades of period doubling and multiply periodic solutions. This study is a first step towards understanding the role and significance of the diffusion of calcium through gap junctions in the coordination of oscillatory calcium waves in a variety of cell types. (c) 2001 American Institute of Physics.