Intracellular Ca2+ stores in permeabilized sheep lens cells were imaged with mag-fura 2 to characterize their distribution and sensitivity to Ca2+-releasing agents. Inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate (IP3) or cyclic ADP-ribose (cADPR) released Ca2+ from intracellular Ca2+ stores that were maintained by an ATP-dependent Ca2+ pump. The IP3 antagonist heparin inhibited IP3- but not cADPR-mediated Ca2+ release, whereas the cADPR antagonist 8-amino-cADPR inhibited cADPR- but not IP3-mediated Ca2+ release, indicating that IP3 and cADPR were operating through separate mechanisms. A Ca2+ store sensitive to IP3, cADPR, and thapsigargin appeared to be distributed throughout all intracellular regions. In some cells a Ca2+ store insensitive to IP3, cADPR, thapsigargin, and 2,4-dinitrophenol, but not ionomycin, was present in a juxtanuclear region. We conclude that lens cells contain intracellular Ca2+ stores that are sensitive to IP3, cADPR, and thapsigargin, as well as a Ca2+ store that appears insensitive to all these agents.