The identity of the voltage-dependent calcium channels (VDCC), which trigger the Ca2+-gated K+ currents (IK(Ca)) in mammalian motor nerve terminals, was investigated by means of perineurial recordings. The effects of Ca2+ chelators with different binding kinetics on the activation of IK(Ca) were also examined. The calcium channel blockers of the P/Q family, omega-agatoxin IVA (omega-Aga-IVA) and funnel-web spider toxin (FTX), have been shown to exert a strong blocking effect on IK(Ca). In contrast, nitrendipine and omega-conotoxin GVIA (omega-CgTx) did not affect the Ca2+-activated K+ currents. The intracellular action of the fast Ca2+ buffers BAPTA and DM-BAPTA prevented the activation of the IK(Ca), while the slow Ca2+ buffer EGTA was ineffective at blocking it. These data indicate that P/Q-type VDCC mediate the Ca2+ influx which activates IK(Ca). The spatial association between Ca2+ and Ca2+-gated K+ channels is discussed, on the basis of the differential effects of the fast and slow Ca2+ chelators.