The presence of the ryanodine receptor was recently demonstrated in vascular and endocardial endothelium, but its function has not been established. We investigated whether functional ryanodine-sensitive Ca2+ stores are present in cultured endothelial cells from rat aorta (RAECs), human aorta (HAECs), human umbilical vein (HUVECs), and bovine pulmonary artery (BPAECs) and what role these may play in intracellular Ca2+ regulation. Under resting conditions, HAECs, BPAECs, and HUVECs demonstrated a slow increase in intracellular Ca2+ (indexed by indo 1 fluorescence) on exposure to 5 μmol/L ryanodine, whereas RAECs did not. However, after an initial bradykinin exposure in RAECs, ryanodine markedly blunted the rapid increase in Ca2+ on a second exposure to bradykinin. In HUVECs, ryanodine in buffer with 1.5 mmol/L Ca2+ did not inhibit the agonist-sensitive Ca2+ increase, whereas it blunted the rapid increase in Ca2+ on histamine exposure in buffer with 5 mmol/L Ca2+, suggesting that increasing [Ca2+] enhances the binding of ryanodine to its receptor. Thus, functional ryanodine-sensitive Ca2+ stores are present in vascular endothelial cells. These appear to be involved in regulation of Ca2+ storage and release from agonist-sensitive intracellular compartments.