Previous studies have demonstrated in single rat parotid acinar cells that the microsomal Ca(2+)-ATPase inhibitor thapsigargin mobilizes Ca2+ specifically from the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3)-sensitive Ca2+ store, activates plasma membrane Ca2+ permeability, and induces intracellular Ca2+ concentration ([Ca2+]i) oscillations that are quite similar to those activated by carbachol. Nevertheless, the IP3-sensitive Ca2+ store remains continuously depleted during thapsigargin-induced oscillations, indicating that this pool is not involved in the oscillation mechanism. To determine the specificity of thapsigargin's effects, in the present study we have examined the effects on [Ca2+]i in single rat parotid acinar cells of two other microsomal Ca(2+)-ATPase inhibitors, cyclopiazonic acid (CPA) and 2,5-di-tert-butyl-1,4-benzohydroquinone (BHQ), and compared them with the effects of thapsigargin in the same cells. Our results demonstrate that thapsigargin, CPA, and BHQ all similarly deplete the IP3-sensitive Ca2+ store specifically, activate plasma membrane Ca2+ influx, and induce [Ca2+]i oscillations, strongly suggesting that these agents have a specific inhibitory action on microsomal Ca(2+)-ATPase activity. BHQ, in addition, inhibits plasma membrane Ca2+ influx. The data lend strong support to a model in which the state of Ca2+ filling of the IP3-sensitive store regulates plasma membrane Ca2+ influx. These results suggest either that a Ca2+ pump is involved which is insensitive to structurally dissimilar inhibitors or that a Ca2+ pump is not involved in refilling of the Ca2+ pool involved in [Ca2+]i oscillations in these cells.