The cytoplasmic calcium ([Ca2+]i) response to angiotensin II (AII) in bovine adrenal glomerulosa cells is characterized by an initial transient peak due to intracellular Ca2+ mobilization, followed by a sustained plateau phase that is dependent on Ca2+ entry from the extracellular fluid. In Fura-2 loaded cells, the calcium channel antagonists, nifedipine (1 microM) and verapamil (20 microM), only partially reduced the cytosolic calcium profile induced by AII. The dihydropyridine agonist, Bay K 8644, caused a moderate increase in [Ca2+]i when added in concentrations of 50-100 nM, but did not enhance the AII-induced rise in [Ca2+]i. These results indicate that most of the AII-stimulated Ca2+ influx is through channels that are insensitive to dihydropyridines and verapamil. In contrast, the inorganic Ca2+ channel blocker, LaCl3 (10 microM), inhibited the AII-induced plateau phase by more than 50%. The AII-induced Ca2+ signal was not affected by treatment with pertussis toxin (100-300 ng/ml for 12 h). The prior addition of specific AII-antagonists (DuP 753, a nonpeptide antagonist, and three peptide analogs, [Sar1,Thr8]AII, [Sar1,Ala8]AII, and [Sar1,Ile8]AII) completely inhibited the AII-induced Ca2+ signal. However, addition of up to 25,000 molar excess of these antagonists at intervals from 10 sec to 5 min after AII caused progressively less attenuation of the sustained Ca2+ signal. After 5 min, addition of antagonists did not inhibit the agonist-induced Ca2+ response for up to 20 min. The progressive loss of ability of the antagonists to inhibit the sustained elevation of [Ca2+]i could reflect prolonged activation of the receptor or of a subsequent process that maintains Ca2+ influx despite receptor blockade. It is possible that sequestration and/or endocytosis of the AII-receptor complex is accompanied by continued generation of intracellular signals that contribute to the maintenance of the [Ca2+]i response.