The nature of ATP release from mainly smooth muscles of guinea-pig was evaluated with KCl and agonists for different kinds of receptors. In ileal longitudinal muscles, amounts of net ATP release by ACh and bethanechol (1-10 microM) were much larger (about 10 fold) than that by other drugs, e.g., histamine, 5-hydroxytryptamine, prostaglandin-F2 alpha, substance P and bradykinin, including KC1, although differences between contractions of the tissue evoked by test drugs were approximately 1.5 times at most. The ATP release, as well as the contraction, evoked by ACh or bethanechol was markedly reduced by atropine (0.3 microM), thus, indicating primarily postjunctional release of ATP. The remarkable ATP release from vas deferens by norepinephrine (NE), but not by substance P, was abolished almost completely by prazosin (0.3 microM). Increases in intracellular Ca2+ and subsequent contraction in the ileal tissue were produced by ATP and these responses were fully antagonized by nifedipine (0.1 microM). These findings provide evidence that the drugs-stimulated ATP release from smooth muscles does not result from contractility of muscles, but is substantially elicited only by stimulation of neurotransmitter (NE or ACh) receptors, suggesting the existence of the receptor-stimulus-postjunctional ATP release coupling. The released ATP may contribute, in part, to the muscle contractility via increase of Ca2(+)-influx, presumably, in a manner related to the voltage-gated Ca2(+)-channels.