Ca(2+)-induced exocytosis in chromaffin cells now seems to consist of at least two distinct steps:MgATP-dependent Ca(2+)-dependent priming of the secretory apparatus, and Ca(2+)-dependent MgATP-independent step that triggers exocytosis (Bittner and Holz, 1992). Recently we found that a specific inhibitor of myosin light chain kinase (MLCK), wortmannin, inhibits Ca(2+)-induced catecholamine release from digitonin-permeabilized chromaffin cells, suggesting an implication of MLCK in the mechanisms of Ca(2+)-induced exocytosis (Imaizumi et al., 1992b). To elucidate further the implication of MLCK in the mechanism of exocytosis, we studied the effects of wortmannin and a peptide inhibitor (SM-1) corresponding to the pseudosubstrate domain of MLCK on MgATP-dependent and MgATP-independent release in digitonin- permeabilized chromaffin cells. Ca(2+)-induced exocytosis from the permeabilized cells in the presence of MgATP was inhibited by both SM-1 and wortmannin. Inhibitory effect of wortmannin on the rate of release induced by 10 microM Ca2+ in the presence of MgATP was much prominent in the later phase (1–10 min), although the initial rate was also decreased. SM-1 strongly inhibited ATP-dependent release without affecting Ca(2+)-dependent ATP-independent release at all. In addition, priming effect of MgATP that underlies Ca(2+)-dependent ATP-independent release was remarkably reduced by both wortmannin and SM-1. These results suggest that MLCK plays an essential role in ATP-dependent priming of Ca(2+)-induced exocytosis in chromaffin cells.