The host hormone melatonin increases cytoplasmic Ca(2+) concentration and synchronizes Plasmodium cell cycle (Hotta, C.T., M.L. Gazarini, F.H. Beraldo, F.P. Varotti, C. Lopes, R.P. Markus, T. Pozzan, and C.R. Garcia. 2000. Nat. Cell Biol. 2:466-468). Here we show that in Plasmodium falciparum melatonin induces an increase in cyclic AMP (cAMP) levels and cAMP-dependent protein kinase (PKA) activity (40 and 50%, respectively). When red blood cells infected with P. falciparum are treated with cAMP analogue adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphate N6-benzoyl/PKA activator (6-Bz-cAMP) there is an alteration of the parasite cell cycle. This effect appears to depend on activation of PKA (abolished by the PKA inhibitors adenosine 3',5'-cyclic monophosphorothioate/8 Bromo Rp isomer, PKI [cell permeable peptide], and H89). An unexpected cross talk was found to exist between the cAMP and the Ca(2+)-dependent signaling pathways. The increases in cAMP by melatonin are inhibited by blocker of phospholipase C U73122, and addition of 6-Bz-cAMP increases cytosolic Ca(2+) concentration, through PKA activation. These findings suggest that in Plasmodium a highly complex interplay exists between the Ca(2+) and cAMP signaling pathways, but also that the control of the parasite cell cycle by melatonin requires the activation of both second messenger controlled pathways.