1 The role of extracellular nucleotides in regulation of ion transport activities (short circuit current, Isc) of human respiratory epithelia was studied. 2 Application of nucleotides to the apical or basolateral membrane of human nasal epithelium induced a concentration-dependent increase in Isc. 3 The rank order of potency of purine- or pyrimidine-induced changes in Isc of normal human nasal epithelium when applied to the apical membrane (UTP greater than or equal to ATP greater than ATP gamma S greater than 2MeSATP greater than ADP beta S much greater than beta gamma MeATP greater than or equal to alpha beta MeATP) or basolateral membrane (2MeSATP greater than UTP greater than ATP greater than ATP gamma S greater than alpha beta MeATP greater than beta gamma MeATP) is consistent with involvement of a P2 purinoceptor. A similar rank order of potencies was observed for nucleotide effects on intracellular calcium measured by Fura-2 fluorescence using microspectrofluorimetry. 4 Similar nucleotide potency in the regulation of ion transport and intracellular calcium in cystic fibrosis (CF) airway epithelium (UTP greater than or equal to ATP) was observed, suggesting purinoceptors might be used to stimulate ion transport processes that would promote hydration of airway secretions and facilitate their clearance from CF lungs. 5 These data provide evidence for the regulation of ion transport by P2 purinoceptors in normal and cystic fibrosis human airway epithelium.