In eukaryotic cells the nucleus and its contents are separated from the cytoplasm by the nuclear envelope. Macromolecules, as well as smaller molecules and ions, can cross the nuclear envelope through the nuclear pore complex. Molecules greater than approx. 60 kDa and containing a nuclear localization signal are actively transported across the nuclear membranes, but there has been little evidence for regulatory mechanisms for smaller molecules and ions. Recently, diffusion across the nuclear envelope has been observed to be regulated by nuclear cisternal Ca2+ concentrations. Following depletion of Ca2+ from the nuclear store by inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate or Ca2+ chelators, a fluorescent 10 kDa marker molecule was no longer able to enter the nucleus. Distinct conformational states of the nuclear pore complexes depended on the Ca2+ filling state of the nuclear envelope, supporting the assumption that a switch in the conformation of the nuclear pore complex may control the transport of intermediate-sized molecules across the nuclear envelope. Thus nuclear Ca2+ stores may regulate the conformational state of the nuclear pore complex, and thereby passive diffusion of molecules between the cytosol and the nucleoplasm. The physiological significance of this finding is currently unknown.