Adenosine is released in the brain in significant quantities in response to increased cellular activity. Adenosine has been shown either to decrease synaptic transmission or to produce an excitatory response in hippocampal synapses, resulting in increased glutamate release. Previous reports have shown that adenosine or its analogs reduced Ca2+ current in dorsal root ganglion and hippocampal neurons. Here we show that the selective activation of adenosine receptor subtypes has different effects on Ca2+ channels from acutely isolated pyramidal neurons from the CA3 region of guinea pig hippocampus. Activation of A1 receptors inhibited primarily N-type Ca2+ current. In contrast, activation of A2b receptors resulted in significant potentiation of P-type but not N-type Ca2+ current. This potentiation could be inhibited by blocking the cAMP-dependent protein kinase. Because of the ubiquity of adenosine, the differential effects on Ca2+ channels of adenosine receptor subtype activation may have significant implications for neuronal excitability.