THE action of TMB-8 [8-N,N-diethylamino)octyl-3,4,5-trimethoxybenzoate] on glutamate (Glu)- and 55 mM KCl (K+)-induced increases in intracellular free calcium levels ([Ca2+],) was studied in cultured mouse cerebral cortical neurones. Glu-induced responses were mediated by two mechanisms, one independent of and the other dependent on extracellular Ca2+, both being inhibited by TMB-8 in a dose-dependent manner. TMB-8 had no effect on [3H]dizocilpine binding kinetics in cortical membrane preparations. The transient and sustained phases of K+-induced increases in [Ca2+], were also inhibited by TMB-8 in a dose-dependent manner. The Ca2+ channel antagonist, verapamil, blocked K+-induced responses but had no effect on Glu-induced responses. Although TMB-8 displays multiple effects, its action at voltage-gated Ca2+ channels does not appear to contribute significantly to its inhibition of the Glu-induced increase in [Ca2+].