Recently, we demonstrated that hypercalcemia causes marked stimulation of feline exocrine pancreatic secretion, and that this effect is absent when a large dose of cholecystokinin (CCK) is infused prior to induction of hypercalcemia. To investigate this effect in more detail, anesthetized cats were given calcium i.v. after preadministration of CCK or urecholine (a cholinergic agonist) at specific doses, or of saline as a control. We found that the hypercalcemia-induced stimulation of pancreatic protein secretion was abolished after preadministration of CCK at large doses. After the prestimulus dose was decreased or the calcium dose was increased, however, the pancreatic secretory response to hypercalcemia was preserved. In contrast, the response to a submaximal dose of CCK was unchanged after prestimulation with a large dose of CCK. Similar results were obtained when urecholine instead of CCK was used as prestimulus. These findings indicate that loss of pancreatic responsiveness to hypercalcemia following prestimulation with CCK is dependent on doses of both prestimulus and calcium used, and that it is not specific for prestimulation with CCK but also inducible by cholinergic agonists. They further suggest that this phenomenon is not due to exhaustion of pancreatic secretory capacity, but may reflect decreased sensitivity to the hypercalcemic stimulus instead.