Carbamazepine (CBZ) resembles lithium in its beneficial effects in therapy and prophylaxis of affective disorders. Since lithium is presumed to act via an attenuation of the inositolphosphate/Ca(2+)-second messenger system, it is of particular interest whether or not CBZ might also have inhibitory effects on this type of signal transduction. CBZ is an antagonist of adenosine A1-receptor subtypes. We show here that activation of adenosine A1-receptors potentiates the phenylephrine induced formation of inositolphosphates in hippocampal astrocytes and that this potentiating effect is inhibited by CBZ at a therapeutically relevant concentration. These results indicate that CBZ can by antagonism of adenosine A1-receptors inhibit the inositolphosphate/Ca(2+)-signalling in neural pathways regulated by adenosine.