The A cell may possess multiple H+ transporters, including H(+)-adenosinetriphosphatase (H(+)-ATPase) and H(+)-K(+)-ATPase. The current study examines the relative roles of proton transporters in the A cell by observing their contribution to both basal intracellular pH (pHi) regulation and pHi recovery from an intracellular acid load. CCD were studied using in vitro microperfusion, and pHi was measured in the individual A cell using the fluorescent, pH-sensitive dye, 2',7'-bis(carboxyethyl)-5(6)-carboxy-fluorescein (BCECF). Inhibiting H(+)-ATPase with luminal bafilomycin A1 decreased basal pHi, whereas inhibiting apical H(+)-K(+)-ATPase with either luminal Sch-28080 or luminal potassium removal did not. The predominant mechanism of pHi, recovery from an intracellular acid load was peritubular sodium dependent and peritubular ethylisopropylamiloride (EIPA) sensitive, identifying basolateral Na+/H+ exchange activity. In the absence of peritubular sodium, pHi recovery was inhibited by luminal bafilomycin A1 but not by luminal Sch-28080 addition or by luminal potassium removal. However, when Na+/H+ exchange was inhibited with EIPA, both bafilomycin A1 sensitive and potassium dependent, Sch-28080-sensitive components of pHi recovery were present. Quantitatively, the rate of H(+)-ATPase proton secretion was greater than the rate of H(+)-K(+)-ATPase proton secretion. We conclude that basolateral Na+/H+ exchange is the predominant mechanism of A cell pHi recovery from an intracellular acid load. An apical H(+)-ATPase is the primary apical transporter contributing to A cell pHi regulation. An apical H(+)-K(+)-ATPase, while present, plays a more limited role under the conditions tested.