Cyclic AMP (cAMP) and dopamine modulate ion uptake across isolated and perfused posterior gills of Chasmagnathus granulatus acclimated to 10 per thousand salinity. Addition of cAMP agonists, such as cp-cAMP, forskolin, and IBMX, produced a significant increase in the transepithelial potential difference (Vte), which reflects ion transport activity. Dopamine (DA) also had a stimulatory effect on ion uptake, increasing Vte and Na(+) influx, although this effect was transient, since both variables remained elevated for less than 30 min. In addition, the dose-response curve for DA concentration-Vte was biphasic, and the maximum stimulation was obtained with 10 micromol l(-1). When the effects of forskolin and DA on the Na(+)/K(+)-ATPase activity were tested, they correlated well with the Vte and Na(+) influx experiments; the enzyme activity increased significantly after preincubation of gill fragments for 10 min with forskolin or DA (51 and 64%, respectively), but there was no effect after pre-incubation with DA for 20 min. Finally, KT5720, a specific inhibitor of cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA), completely abolished the stimulatory effect of DA on Vte, suggesting the involvement of PKA in this mechanism.