We tested divalent metals including Cu2+, Pb2+, and Zn2+ to determine their pharmacological profiles for blockade of cloned T-type Ca2+ channels (alpha1G, alpha1 H, and alpha1I). Effects of the metals were also evaluated for native low and high voltage-activated Ca2+ channels in rat sympathetic pelvic neurons. Cu2+ and Zn2+ blocked three T-type channel isoforms in a concentration-dependent manner with a higher affinity for alpha1H currents (IC50 = 0.9 microM and 2.3 microM). In pelvic neurons, only Zn2+ showed strong selectivity for T-type Ca2+ currents over high voltage-activated Ca2+ currents. Conversely, Pb2+ block on Ca2+ channels did not show distinctive selectivity. Taken together, these results suggest that besides Ni2+, Cu2+ and Zn2+ can be used as selective blockers of alpha1 H at low concentrations.