Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (InsP3) can initiate calcium release into the cytoplasm in a variety of cells. From experiments using permeabilized cells, membrane vesicles, and patch-clamp techniques, it has been suggested that InsP3 acts by directly opening calcium channels. Here, we show that InsP3 induced openings of channels in planar lipid bilayers into which vesicles made from aortic muscle sarcoplasmic reticulum (SR) were incorporated. Activation of channels by InsP3 was not observed when vesicles made from SR of cardiac or skeletal muscle were incorporated into planar lipid bilayers. The present study demonstrates for the first time unique properties of an InsP3-gated calcium channel in sarcoplasmic reticulum vesicles from vascular smooth muscle. This InsP3-activated channel from aortic SR differs strikingly from the calcium-gated calcium channel of striated muscle SR in single-channel conductance and pharmacology.