Synaptic transmission is mediated by calcium entry through voltage-dependent calcium channels in presynaptic nerve terminals. Various types of calcium channel have been characterized in neuronal somata, but it is not clear which subtypes induce transmitter release at central synapses. The N-type Ca2+ channel blocker omega-conotoxin GVIA (omega-CgTx) suppresses the excitatory postsynaptic responses only partially, whereas potassium-induced release of glutamate from brain synaptosomes can be blocked by omega-Aga-VIA (ref. 9), a blocker of P-type calcium channels and possibly of other types of calcium channels. Here we test type-specific calcium-channel blockers on postsynaptic currents recorded from neurons in thin slices of rat central nervous system. Inhibitory postsynaptic currents in cerebellar and spinal neurons and excitatory postsynaptic currents in hippocampal neurons are markedly suppressed by omega-Aga-IVA and reduced to a lesser extent by omega-CgTx. The L-type calcium channel blocker nicardipine had no effect. Our results indicate that at least two types of calcium channel mediate synaptic transmission in the mammalian central nervous system.