The roles of Ca2+ and cyclic nucleotides as secondary, intracellular messengers for exflagellation of Plasmodium berghei and Plasmodium falciparum were investigated. Treatment with Ca2+ antagonists such as TMB-8 (an inhibitor of intracellular Ca2+ release) or W-7 (a calmodulin inhibitor) strongly inhibited exflagellation induced by alkaline medium at pH 8.0 whereas EGTA (a Ca2+ chelator) or nicardipine and nifedipine (Ca2+ channel inhibitors) had no effect. These results may indicate that mobilization of parasites' internal resources of Ca2+ is a prerequisite for exflagellation. Agents which increase cAMP levels did not induce exflagellation at the non-permissive pH of 7.3, and had no significant inhibitory effect at the permissive pH of 8.0. IBMX (cAMP/cGMP-phosphodiesterase inhibitor), however, enhanced exflagellation at pH 7.3, indicating the possibility that cGMP, but not cAMP, may be involved in the induction of exflagellation. Furthermore, cGMP or agents which increase cGMP levels such as nitroprusside (a potent activator of guanylate cyclase), enhanced exflagellation at pH 7.3, whereas N-methyl-hydroxylamine (guanylate cyclase inhibitor) inhibited the exflagellation at pH 8.0. From these results, it may be concluded that the induction of exflagellation requires both Ca2+ mobilization and an increase in cGMP levels.