We examined calmodulin and its gene from the wild-type and viable mutants of P. tetraurelia. The mutants, selected for their behavioral aberrations, have little or no defects in growth rates, secretion, excretion, or motility. They can be grouped according to whether they underreact or overreact behaviorally to certain stimuli, reflecting their respective loss of either a Ca2(+)-dependent Na+ current or a Ca2(+)-dependent K+ current. Sequence analyses showed that all three underreactors have amino acid substitutions in the N-terminal lobe of the calmodulin dumbbell, whereas all three overreactors have substitutions in the C-terminal lobe. No mutations fell in the central helix connecting the two lobes. These results may indicate that the sites defined by these mutations are important in membrane excitation but not in other biological functions. They also suggest that the two lobes of calmodulin may be used differentially for the activation of different Ca2(+)-dependent channels.