1. Pharmacological and kinetic properties of high-voltage-activated (HVA) Ca2+ channel currents were studied using the whole-cell and perforated patch-clamp methods in a mouse neuroblastoma and rat glioma hybrid cell line, NG108-15, differentiated by dibutyryl cyclic AMP or by prostaglandin E1 and theophylline. 2. The HVA currents were separated into two components by use of two organic Ca2+ channel antagonists, omega-conotoxin GVIA (omega CgTX) and a dihydropyridine (DHP) compound, nifedipine. One current component, IDHP, was blocked by nifedipine (Kd = 8.2 nM) and was resistant to omega CgTX. Conversely, the other component, I omega CgTX, was irreversibly blocked by omega CgTX and was resistant to DHPs. Thus, IDHP could be studied in isolation by a short application of omega CgTX, while I omega CgTX could be studied in the presence of nifedipine. 3. The voltage for half-activation of IDHP was smaller than that of I omega CgTX by 13 mV. IDHP was activated at potentials that were subthreshold for voltage-dependent K+ currents of the cell, whereas I omega CgTX was not. 4. Time courses of activation and deactivation of IDHP were faster than those of I omega CgTX. 5. Voltage-dependent inactivation was small for both IDHP and I omega CgTX at any potential. 6. Ca(2+)-dependent inactivation of IDHP was faster and more prominent than that of I omega CgTX. The time course of the Ca(2+)-dependent inactivation of IDHP, but not I omega CgTX, was slowed as the membrane potential was made more positive between -20 and 30 mV, although amplitude of the current was increased. 7. Alkaline earth metal ions carried the two components of IHVA in the same order: Ba2+ greater than Sr2+ greater than Ca2+. 8. Metal ions blocked the two components of IHVA in the same order of potency: Gd3+ greater than La3+ greater than Cd2+ greater than Cu2+ greater than Mn2+ greater than Ni2+. 9. An alkylating agent, N-ethylmaleimide (NEM, 0.1 mM), selectively augmented IDHP by 30%. 10. During the course of cellular differentiation induced by dibutyryl cyclic AMP, IDHP appeared earlier than I omega CgTX. 11. These results indicate that two classes of Ca2+ channels contribute to the HVA currents of this cell line. The DHP-sensitive channel is more apt to generate Ca2+ spikes and Ca2+ plateau potentials than the omega CgTX-sensitive channel.