In the present study, cytosolic calcium concentration changes were recorded in response to various forms of excitations, using the fluorescent calcium indicator dye OG-BAPTA1 together with the current or voltage clamp methods in stretch receptor neurons of crayfish. A single action potential evoked a rise in the resting calcium level in the axon and axonal hillock, whereas an impulse train or a large saturating current injection would be required to evoke an equivalent response in the dendrite region. Under voltage clamp conditions, amplitude differences between axon and dendrite responses vanished completely. The fast activation time and the modulation of the response by extracellular calcium concentration changes indicated that the evoked calcium transients might be mediated by calcium entry into the cytosol through a voltage-gated calcium channel. The decay of the responses was slow and sensitive to extracellular sodium and calcium concentrations as well as exposure to 1-10 mM NiCl2 and 10-500 mu M lanthanum. Thus, a sodium calcium exchanger and a calcium ATPase might be responsible for calcium extrusion from the cytosol. Present results indicate that the calcium indicator OG-BAPTA1 might be an efficient but indirect way of monitoring regional membrane potential differences in a single neuron.