Tunas are capable of exceptionally high maximum metabolic rates; such capability requires rapid delivery of oxygen and metabolic substrate to the tissues. This requirement is met, in part, by exceptionally high maximum cardiac outputs, opening the possibility that myocardial Ca(2+) delivery is enhanced in myocytes from tuna compared with those from other fish. In this study, we investigated the electrophysiological properties of the cardiac L-type Ca(2+) channel current (I(Ca)) to test the hypothesis that Ca(2+) influx would be large and have faster kinetics in cardiomyocytes from Pacific bluefin tuna (Thunnus orientalis) than in those from its sister taxon, the Pacific mackerel (Scombe japonicus). In accordance with this hypothesis, I(Ca) in atrial myocytes from bluefin tuna had significantly greater peak current amplitudes and faster fast inactivation kinetics (-4.4 +/- 0.2 pA/pF and 25.9 +/- 1.6 ms, respectively) than those from mackerel (-2.7 +/- 0.5 pA/pF and 32.3 +/- 3.8 ms, respectively). Steady-state activation, inactivation, and recovery from inactivation were also faster in atrial myocytes from tuna than from mackerel. In ventricular myocytes, current amplitude and activation and inactivation rates were similar in both species but elevated compared with those of other teleosts. These results indicate enhanced I(Ca) in atrial myocytes from bluefin tuna compared with Pacific mackerel; this enhanced I(Ca) may be associated with elevated cardiac performance, because I(Ca) delivers the majority of Ca(2+) involved in excitation-contraction coupling in most fish hearts. Similarly, I(Ca) is enhanced in the ventricle of both species compared with other teleosts and may play a role in the robust cardiac performance of fishes of the family Scombridae.