Previous studies have shown that the growth of axons from both mouse dorsal root ganglion neurons and Helisoma neurons is arrested when the cells are electrically stimulated (Cohan and Kater, 1986; Fields et al., 1990a). Furthermore, in the case of Helisoma neurons, this arrest has been attributed to a rise in the calcium concentration in the growth cones (Cohan et al., 1987). To test the generality of these results, we examined the response of cultured rat superior cervical ganglion (SCG) neurons to electrical stimulation and changes in cytoplasmic calcium. Suprathreshold electrical stimulation of SCG neurons at 10 Hz by extracellular patch electrodes for periods of up to 1 hr had no measurable effect on their rate of growth. In agreement with previous studies, electrical stimulation was accompanied by a rise in the internal calcium concentration: when measured by the fluorescence of fura-2, growth cone calcium levels rose from about 100 nM to greater than 500 nM and then settled to a plateau value of about 350 nM. Despite this increase, however, growth of SCG neurons' processes continued. Our results show that electrical activity is not a universal signal for neurons to stop growing and that a rise in internal calcium does not always arrest the migration of growth cones.