The involvement of Ca2+ in the regulation of intestinal secretion was investigated in stripped sheets of rat mid-intestine. Removal of serosal Ca2+ together with the addition of EGTA at concentrations of 0.5 and 1 mM inhibited the rise in short-circuit current (s.c.c.) induced by both acetylcholine and theophylline, a similar degree of inhibition being observed with both secretagogues. Ca2+-free serosal fluid with 0.5 mM-EGTA added reduced significantly the rises in s.c.c. induced by A23187, acetylcholine, 5-hydroxytryptamine, theophylline, dibutyryl cyclic AMP and prostaglandin E2, but not the increased s.c.c. associated with glucose absorption. The Ca2+ channel blocker verapamil produced similar results. The calmodulin antagonist trifluoperazine inhibited secretagogue action while its sulphoxide derivative was without effect at the same concentration. The intracellular Ca2+ antagonist TMB-8 reduced the increased s.c.c. observed with acetylcholine and dibutyryl cyclic AMP. The net Cl- secretion, but not the decreased mucosal-to-serosal Na+ flux, induced by acetylcholine was abolished in Ca2+-free conditions. There was no consistent effect on the reduction in the residual ion flux caused by acetylcholine. Absence of Ca2+ converted the stimulation of Cl- secretion induced by dibutyryl cyclic AMP observed under control conditions to an enhancement of net Na+ and Cl- absorption. It is concluded that intestinal secretagogues, whether they act through cyclic AMP or not, require both internal and external sources of Ca2+ if they are to produce their full effects. Moreover, it appears that the nature of the response to dibutyryl cyclic AMP depends on the prevailing Ca2+ concentration.