Adrenergic, cholinergic, and a variety of peptide neurotransmitters are known to modulate Ca currents in peripheral neurons. Using a protocol that allows for simultaneous assessment of effects on dihydropyridine (DHP)-sensitive and DHP-insensitive current components, we compared the actions of norepinephrine (NE), bethanechol (BeCh), and neuropeptide Y (NPY) on Ca currents in neonatal rat superior cervical ganglion neurons. Here, we show that these transmitters selectively depress the activity of DHP-insensitive Ca channels. Intracellular application of GTP-gamma-S, an activator of GTP-binding proteins, also exclusively affected the DHP-insensitive current, whereas 1,2-oleoylacetylglycerol (OAG), a protein kinase C (PKC) activator, depressed both the DHP- sensitive and DHP-insensitive currents. Pertussis toxin interrupted the coupling between NE and its effector, whereas three different inhibitors of PKC did not. Thus, we confirmed that the selective actions of the transmitters on Ca current appear to be mediated via GTP- binding proteins, but we found no evidence for direct involvement of PKC and conclude that the observed actions of OAG are distinct from those mediated by the neurotransmitters studied.