In the rat cerebellar slice preparation in vitro, excessive DL-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-isoxazole-4-propionic acid (AMPA)-receptor activation elicits a characteristic type of excitotoxicity of Purkinje cells (PCs) known as dark cell degeneration (DCD). DCD models neurotoxicity of PCs and hippocampal pyramidal neurons in vivo following hyperexcitable states. The intent of this study was to: a) determine whether AMPA-induced neurotoxicity of PCs is correlated with temporally and spatially restricted rises in intracellular Ca2+ and b) whether GYKI 52466 and nominal external Ca2+, conditions that reduced expression of AMPA-elicited DCD, altered the induced Ca2+ patterns. Employing the Ca2+-sensitive dye Fluo-3 and a confocal laser scanning microscope, we evaluated changes in intracellular Ca2+ within PCs in a cerebellar slice preparation. AMPA application alone (30 μM for 30 min) caused a significant initial rise in perinuclear and cytoplasmic Ca2+ that returned to control levels during the latter part of the AMPA exposure period. Following removal of AMPA (expression period), perinuclear and cytoplasmic Ca2+ displayed a significant delayed rise peaking transiently 60 min after AMPA removal. The efficacy of GYKI 52466 and nominal external Ca2+ conditions to attenuate AMPA-induced DCD was correlated to reductions in AMPA-induced transient elevations in perinuclear and cytoplasmic Ca2+ levels during the expression phase and to a lesser extent during the exposure period. The present data suggest that during the expression phase, the delayed perinuclear and cytoplasmic Ca2+ transient may be the harbinger of impending loss of Ca2+ homeostasis and cell damage.