In dispersed acini from rat pancreas, verapamil (a phenylalkylamine calcium channel blocker) potentiated amylase secretion stimulated by vasoactive intestinal peptide (VIP), secretin, peptide histidine isoleucine, helodermin, forskolin, and 8-bromocyclic AMP. The action of verapamil on VIP-stimulated amylase secretion was detectable at 10 microM verapamil and maximal at 100 microM verapamil. Verapamil did not alter binding of 125I-VIP, basal cAMP, the increase in cAMP caused by VIP, or the increase in cAMP-dependent protein kinase caused by VIP. The effects of verapamil on stimulated amylase secretion were fully reversible and could be reproduced by nicardipine (a 1,4-dihydropyridine calcium channel blocker) and diltiazem (a benzothiazepine calcium channel blocker), but not by cinnarizine (a piperazine calcium channel blocker). Although 300 microM verapamil increased outflux of 45Ca, 100 microM verapamil, the concentration that produced maximal potentiation of VIP-stimulated amylase secretion, did not alter 45Ca outflux. Our results indicate that the action of verapamil to potentiate amylase secretion stimulated by secretagogues that activate the cAMP pathway occurs at a step that is distal to the activation of cAMP-dependent protein kinase.