The effects of methyl 2,6-dimethyl-4-(2-nitrophenyl)-5-(2-oxo-1,3,2-dioxaphosphorinan-2- yl)-1,4- dihydropyridine 3-carboxylate (DHP-218), a new dihydropyridine calcium antagonist, on vascular smooth muscles, cardiac muscles and [3H]-nitrendipine binding to the cardiac muscle and brain membranes were investigated in vitro. Vascular smooth muscles: Calcium-induced contraction of the rat aorta in high K+ solution was inhibited by DHP-218 with the pA2 value of 9.11. The IC50 value for the inhibitory effects of this compound in high K+-induced and phenylephrine-induced contraction was 6.3 nmol/l and 66 nmol/l, respectively. Vasodilatory effects of this drug on various blood vessels of rabbits contracted by high K+ appeared to a similar extent. The onset of the vasodilatory effect was very slow and the recovery rate of vasodilatory response after washout with the bathing solution containing high K+ or phenylephrine was also very slow. Cardiac muscles: Negative chronotropic and inotropic actions were observed at concentrations more than 30 and 100 nmol/l, respectively. Duration of the plateau phase of normal action potential was shortened and the amplitude and duration of slow action potential were reduced at concentrations more than 1 mumol/l. Very high vasculoselectivity was observed. Displacement of [3H]-nitrendipine binding: The pattern of displacement of [3H]-nitrendipine binding by DHP-218 was very similar to that of other 1,4-dihydropyridines but this compound was about 70 times less potent than nifedipine in [3H]-nitrendipine displacement capacity. These results indicate that DHP-218 has specific vasodilatory action due to calcium antagonism, but association and dissociation rates with tissue and receptors were different from those of nifedipine.