A database search of the Paramecium genome reveals 34 genes related to Ca(2+)-release channels of the inositol-1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP(3)) or ryanodine receptor type (IP(3)R, RyR). Phylogenetic analyses show that these Ca(2+) release channels (CRCs) can be subdivided into six groups (Paramecium tetraurelia CRC-I to CRC-VI), each one with features in part reminiscent of IP(3)Rs and RyRs. We characterize here the P. tetraurelia CRC-IV-1 gene family, whose relationship to IP(3)Rs and RyRs is restricted to their C-terminal channel domain. CRC-IV-1 channels localize to cortical Ca(2+) stores (alveolar sacs) and also to the endoplasmic reticulum. This is in contrast to a recently described true IP(3) channel, a group II member (P. tetraurelia IP(3)R(N)-1), found associated with the contractile vacuole system. Silencing of either one of these CRCs results in reduced exocytosis of dense core vesicles (trichocysts), although for different reasons. Knockdown of P. tetraurelia IP(3)R(N) affects trichocyst biogenesis, while CRC-IV-1 channels are involved in signal transduction since silenced cells show an impaired release of Ca(2+) from cortical stores in response to exocytotic stimuli. Our discovery of a range of CRCs in Paramecium indicates that protozoans already have evolved multiple ways for the use of Ca(2+) as signaling molecule.