The role of intracellular calcium in the modulation of a depressant-like condition was investigated in the mouse forced swimming test. I.c.v. administration of TMB-8 (0.23-46.3 nmol per mouse), a blocker of Ca2+ release from intracellular stores, decreased the mouse immobility time. I.c.v. injection of thapsigargin (0.003-3 nmol per mouse), compound which selectively inhibits Ca2+ uptake into the endoplasmic reticulum, produced, 60 min after administration, a depressant-like condition. Xestospongin C (1-100 pmol per mouse i.c.v.), an InsP3-receptor antagonist, decreased the mouse immobility time. By contrast, d-myo-inositol (5.4-540 pmol per mouse i.c.v.), compound which produces InsP3, resulted in a depressant-like effect. Similarly, ryanodine (0.1-600 pmol per mouse i.c.v.), an RyR antagonist, decreased the immobility time values whereas the administration of 4-chloro-m-cresol (0.1-100 pmol per mouse i.c.v.), an RyR agonist, showed an opposite effect. The antidepressant-like effects observed with TMB-8, xestospongin C and ryanodine were comparable to that produced by the antidepressant drugs amitriptyline and clomipramine. The treatments employed did not produce any behavioural impairment of mice as revealed by the rota-rod and hole board tests indicating that the antidepressant- and depressant-like effects were not due to a compromised locomotor activity and spontaneous motility of the treated animals. These results indicate that a central variation in intracellular calcium contents is involved in the modulation of a depressive-like condition in the mouse forced swimming test. In particular, the blockade of both InsP3Rs and RyRs appears to play an important role in the induction of an antidepressant-like effect, whereas the stimulation of these receptors is involved in a depressant-like response of mice.