1. Changes in membrane capacitance evoked by the rapid photolysis of a caged Ca2+ compound, DM-nitrophen or nitrophenyl-EGTA, were investigated in undifferentiated PC12 cells. They were interpreted as representing exocytosis and endocytosis. 2. The Ca2+ jumps evoked two components of exocytosis. Slow exocytosis was selectively evoked with small increases in intracellular Ca2+ concentration between 5 and 10 microM, while fast exocytosis preceded the slow one at [Ca2+]i greater than 10 microM. 3. The release rates of the two components of exocytosis depended steeply on [Ca2+]i. A half-maximal release rate was achieved at 8 and 24 microM for the slow and fast exocytoses, respectively. 4. Prior Ca2+ rises did not augment the fast exocytosis. 5. The fast exocytosis was often followed by a rapid decrease in membrane capacitance, representing endocytosis, after a delay of 0.5-2 s. The speed and delay in the fast endocytosis were Ca2+ dependent. Amounts of the fast endocytosis tended to balance with those of the fast exocytosis evoked by the same Ca2+ jumps. 6. The slow exocytosis was followed by a sluggish endocytosis that was associated with large capacitance steps indicative of secretory processes involving large dense-core vesicles. The onset of the slow endocytosis exhibited a complex Ca2+ dependence. The amounts of the slow endocytosis appeared to parallel those of the slow exocytosis. Prior induction of the slow exocytosis gave rise to selective excess retrieval of membrane during the slow endocytosis. 7. These data indicate the existence of two distinct populations of secretory vesicles in PC12 cells. They seem to couple selectively with specific endocytotic mechanisms. Our data suggest that the two vesicles belong to two distinct secretory pathways.