Exocytosis begins with formation of a small fusion pore which then expands allowing rapid release of granular contents. We studied the influence of cytoplasmic free Ca2+ ([Ca2+]i) on the conductance of the initial pore and on the dynamics of subsequent expansion in horse eosinophils using the patch clamp technique. The mean initial conductance is approximately 200 pS independent of [Ca2+]i. This value is close to that previously found in beige mouse mast cells. The pore subsequently expands by 18 nS/s at [Ca2+]i < 10 nM, by 40 nS/s at [Ca2+]i = 1.5 microM and by 90 nS/s at [Ca2+]i = 10 microM. These results show that the structure of the initial fusion pore is independent of cytoplasmic Ca2+. However, the pore expansion is a Ca(2+)-dependent process modulating secretion at a step later than vesicle-plasma membrane fusion.