Isolated cortices from unfertilized sea urchin eggs sequester calcium in an ATP-dependent manner when incubated in a medium containing free calcium levels characteristic of the resting cell (approximately 0.1 microM). This ATP-dependent calcium uptake activity was measured in the presence of 5 mM Na azide to prevent mitochondrial accumulation, was increased by oxalate, and was blocked by 150 microM quercetin and 50 microM vanadate (known inhibitors of calcium uptake into the sarcoplasmic reticulum). Cortical regions preloaded with 45Ca in the presence of ATP were shown to dramatically increase their rate of calcium efflux upon the addition of (a) the calcium ionophore A23187 (10 microM), (b) trifluoperazine (200 microM), (c) concentrations of free calcium that activated cortical granule exocytosis, and (d) the calcium mobilizing agent inositol trisphosphate. This pool of calcium is most likely sequestered in the portion of the egg's endoplasmic reticulum that remains associated with the cortical region during its isolation. We have developed a method for obtaining a high yield of purified microsomal vesicles from whole eggs. This preparation also demonstrates ATP-dependent calcium sequestering activity which increases in the presence of oxalate and has similar sensitivities to calcium transport inhibitors; however, the isolated microsomal vesicles did not show any detectable release of calcium when exposed to inositol trisphosphate.