GABA and norepinephrine inhibit high voltage-activated calcium current in chick sensory neurons. Using specific pharmacological tools, we have dissected this current into two components: the major one is omega- conotoxin sensitive and dihydropyridine resistant (N-type) while the minor one is dihydropyridine sensitively and omega-conotoxin resistant (L-type). The ability to selectively eliminate these two components has allowed us to determine whether the transmitters target the same or different channel types. Both GABA and norepinephrine modulate the N- type component as evidenced by their lack of effect on (1) omega- conotoxin-resistant current and (2) pure L-type tail current, prolonged by a dihydropyridine calcium channel agonist. This simple pharmacological profile will allow future tests of the significance of the two channel types in regulating sensory neuron functions.