Presynaptic modulation of action potential duration may regulate synaptic transmission in both vertebrates and invertebrates. Such synaptic plasticity is brought about by modifications to membrane currents at presynaptic release sites, which, in turn, lead to changes in the concentration of cytosolic calcium available for mediating transmitter release. The 'primitive' neuromuscular junction of the jellyfish Polyorchis penicillatus is a useful model of presynaptic modulation. In this study, we show that the durations of action potentials in the motor neurons of this jellyfish are negatively correlated with the amplitude of excitatory junctional potentials. We present data from in vitro voltage-clamp experiments showing that short duration voltage spikes, which elicit large excitatory junctional potentials in vivo, produce larger and briefer calcium currents than do long duration action potentials, which elicit small excitatory junctional potentials.