The voltage-gated Ca2+ current in cone photoreceptors operates over only a small part of the physiological voltage range produced by light and, consequently, appears insufficient for controlling transmitter release. We have used a whole-cell voltage clamp to measure membrane current and the capacitance change produced by exocytosis in solitary cone and rod photoreceptors isolated from the salamander retina. In both types of photoreceptor, Ca2+ influx through voltage-gated Ca2+ channels initiated exocytosis. In addition, Ca2+ influx through a cGMP-gated channel in the inner segment and synaptic processes of cones also initiated exocytosis. The cGMP-gated current sustained exocytosis over the entire physiological voltage range.