Ca2+ currents in acutely isolated, adult rat neostriatal neurons were studied with whole-cell voltage-clamp techniques. In the vast majority of neurons (approximately 90%, n > 250), currents were exclusively of the high-voltage-activated (HVA) type. HVA currents activated near -40 mV and reached their maximum amplitude near 0 mV. Quasi-steady-state inactivation curves in many neurons were well fitted only with a sum of Boltzmann functions, suggesting that the HVA currents were heterogeneous. Although the block of whole-cell current by Cd2+ was well fitted with a single isotherm having an IC50 of near 1 microM, experiments with organic channel antagonists suggested that at least four types of HVA channels were expressed by most cells. On average, the L-channel antagonist nifedipine (5–10 microM) blocked 31 +/- 10% of the whole-cell current (n = 20), the N-channel antagonist omega- conotoxin GVIA (omega-CgTx) (2–5 microM) blocked 27 +/- 11% (n = 20), and the P-channel antagonist omega-agatoxin IVA (100–500 nM) blocked 21 +/- 10% (n = 18). In many neurons, the block by omega-CgTx was partially or completely reversible. In cells tested with a combination of these antagonists, 34 +/- 17% of the peak Ca2+ current remained unblocked (n = 13). Single-cell expression profiling of medium-sized neurons revealed the presence of rbA and rbB Ca2+ channel alpha 1 subunit mRNAs but low or undetectable levels of rbC mRNA (n = 12). These findings suggest that although adult neostriatal projection neurons do not express significant levels of LVA Ca2+ current, they do express a pharmacologically and structurally heterogeneous population of HVA currents.